• Kyodo


A 30-year-old self-employed Kyoto man was arrested Monday on suspicion of possessing so-called black ninja swords in violation of the Firearm and Sword Control law, police said. The swords are popular with collectors.

The suspect, identified as Kenichiro Suzuki, allegedly had 24 of the swords, each measuring about 68 cm long with a roughly 45-cm blade, at his home in Ukyo Ward on the morning of May 21, when police first questioned him. They said it was the first time someone has been arrested for possession of this type of sword.

Suzuki has denied committing any wrongdoing, arguing that possession of the swords is not illegal because they are sold at major general merchandise stores, according to police.

Investigators said Suzuki set up a Web site in November to sell swords and similar items. He put the ninja swords up for sale under the product name “samurai swords” in an Internet auction, receiving bids through April ranging from around 16,000 yen to 27,000 yen.

A black ninja sword is suspected of having been used in an attack on a 60-year-old owner of a camera shop in Iide, Yamagata Prefecture, on May 7. The owner, Nobuyoshi Ito, and his 27-year-old son, Satoru, were killed, while his wife, 54, sustained serious wounds.

The Kyoto Prefectural Police said they determined the swords were illegal based on such properties as the quality of the steel used in the blade.

Because a ninja sword was the murder weapon used in the Yamagata slayings, police said they decided to make the arrest, determining it was “malicious” for Suzuki to sell the swords to a large number of people on the Internet.

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