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The government’s project team for studying measures to prevent the spread of guns has submitted a report to the state minister in charge of such measures, Sanae Takaichi. She says the government will push the necessary measures with determination to revive the nation as the safest country in the world. The report points to a series of gun-related crimes that have happened since the turn of the year. To eradicate such crimes, the government must focus on confiscating guns from gangsters.

Recent shooting-death crimes include the April 17 murder of Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito by a former gangster; the April 20 gangster-on-gangster killing in Sagamihari, Kanagawa Prefecture, after which the suspect holed up in a house in Machida, Tokyo; and the May 17 killing of a police special-attack team member by a former gangster in Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture.

Police estimate that at the end of 2006, there were about 41,500 gangsters in the nation. If each gangster has a gun, it means that at least 40,000 guns exist in Japanese society. For the decade ended in 2006, only about 4,500 guns were confiscated. Last year alone, 458 guns were confiscated, 204 of them from gangsters. In June, the Kanagawa prefectural police seized 31 guns and about 500 live cartridges from a gangster.

Since gangs employ ingenious techniques to smuggle, hide and sell guns, it is imperative that police nurture investigators capable of carrying out time-consuming, secretive investigations. To strengthen the crime-fighting abilities of police, it may be necessary to transfer personnel from other sections.

The Firearm and Sword Control Law, revised in 1993, stipulates a reduction or exemption of punishment for those who give themselves and their guns up to police. But this provision has not been effective. The project team’s report calls for monetarily rewarding people who tip off police as to the whereabouts of guns.

The government also must work out legal measures and solicit cooperation from businesses and local governments to counter the tactics of sophisticated gangs who play the stock market or extort money from companies.

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