National / Crime & Legal

Japan to reinforce police gun holsters to prevent firearm theft

Kyodo

The National Police Agency is accelerating plans to reinforce police officers’ gun holsters and safety straps so their firearms cannot be stolen, agency officials said Wednesday.

The move comes in the wake of an incident in the city of Toyama the previous day where a 21-year-old man stabbed an officer, stole his gun and shot a school security guard nearby, killing both.

The agency had intended to make improvements to the standard-issue firearm holder by around 2020, but will move up the plan in response to the Toyama incident, the officials said.

The plan involves redesigning the holster and attachments to make it difficult for those other than the officer wearing it to take out the gun, they said.

On Tuesday, Keita Shimazu, a former member of the Self-Defense Forces, stabbed the 46-year-old officer at a police box, took his gun before moving on to an elementary school in the neighborhood and gunning down a 68-year-old security guard.

Shimazu was arrested after being shot by another police officer who arrived at the elementary school in response to the incident.

According to agency statistics, before the Toyama incident there had been six cases since 2013 in which local police officers were robbed of their pistols. Of those, the gun was fired in three of the cases.

In the past, police have made improvements to officers’ gun holsters by reinforcing the elastic cords that attach the revolvers to belts. That change was made following a 2005 incident in Gifu Prefecture where two Japanese-Brazilian brothers robbed a policeman of a loaded gun by cutting the cord with a knife, and fled in a vehicle. They were arrested three weeks later.