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Japan eyes stricter gun control rules

Japan eyes stricter gun control rules

Japan's government said yesterday that it will consider tightening gun-control rules after the murder of Nagasaki's mayor, as a new gun death rattled the capital Tokyo.
A man was shot dead outside a shop in suburban Tokyo, just three days after the mayor was gunned down in Nagasaki in a killing that has stunned a nation priding itself on its safety record.
Underworld gangs are linked to most gun violence here, including the death of mayor Iccho Ito, who was attacked by a gang member Tuesday in the southern Japanese city as he campaigned for re-election this weekend.
"This case we had in Nagasaki is literally a challenge to democracy," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a news conference.
"The Abe cabinet wants to take it seriously and will take action," said Shiozaki, the top spokesman of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Shiozaki said he will chair a "firearms eradication promotion conference" to hold its first meeting next week.
Japan already strictly controls guns, with only police and licensed hunters and some sportsmen allowed to own firearms.
It contrasts with the United States, where a mentally disturbed student's shooting rampage at a Virginia university that left 33 people dead this week has renewed debate over the nation's easy access to guns.
The Japanese government panel is first expected to review existing controls and consider shoring up ways to prevent the smuggling of illegal firearms into the country.
Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, called for an immediate enhancement of gun control enforcement.
"I want to call on the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and others to further strengthen the control of firearms," he told reporters.
Japan has the fewest gun deaths per capita among major developed countries. The United States, where the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected, has the highest, according to a 1999 U.N. study.
Nagasaki police said the mayor's assassin, Tetsuya Shiroo, used a US-made .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.
Investigators were trying to piece together the motives of Shiroo, who apparently had a grudge against the city and was seeking compensation over a car accident.
In one development, Kyodo News said police suspected 59-year-old Shiroo may have had an accomplice, a driver in his early 20s who was supposedly waiting with a getaway car.
Police declined to comment on the report but said they have searched vehicles and buildings with possible links to the crime.


Updated : 2021-10-28 22:25 GMT+08:00