Japan is said to be one of the safest countries in the world, with strict gun-control laws. But last week, a shooting in which a 31-year-old man killed two police officers and two women in Nagano Prefecture dominated the news, prompting questions about how strict gun laws actually are in the country.

In the Nagano shooting, the man had firearm licenses — obtained between 2015 and 2019 — that enabled him to possess four guns, including a rifle and a shotgun. There have been no reports of the suspect having a mental illness, which would have prevented him from getting the licenses.

According to the National Police Agency, there were nine incidents involving guns last year, in which four people died and two were injured. Of the nine, six cases appeared to be associated with organized crime syndicates.