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Shocking Gun and Knife Rampage Leaves 4 Dead in Japan, Prompting Outrage

Rare Gun and Knife Rampage in Nakano, Japan Leaves 4 Dead; Suspect in Custody

A shocking incident unfolded in Nakano, a central city in Japan, as the son of a local government official went on a shooting and stabbing rampage. The suspect, a 31-year-old farmer, Masanori Aoki, is now in police custody. This incident is particularly unusual in a country known for its strict gun laws and low murder rate.

Authorities in Nakano reported that Aoki is suspected of fatally shooting a 61-year-old police officer in the chest using what appeared to be a hunting rifle. Additionally, two other individuals died during the rampage—a woman in her 40s and another 46-year-old police officer. On Friday, a 70-year-old woman found outside the house where the suspect had barricaded himself was pronounced dead.

Nagano police chief Iwao Koyama addressed the media, expressing the gravity of the situation. Approximately 100 investigators are diligently working to uncover the complete details of this alarming incident. The event has instilled “great anxiety” throughout Japan, a nation of 125 million people, where gun violence is sporadic. The country’s stringent gun control laws contribute to its remarkably low rates of gun crimes.

Comparatively, data from the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney reveals that in 2018, Japan recorded only nine firearm-related deaths. In contrast, the United States reported 39,740 deaths in the same year.

How the alleged attack unfolded

Man Goes on Stabbing Spree in Nakano, Japan, Prompting Evacuation and Standoff

Late Thursday afternoon, authorities were alerted to a distressing incident in Nakano, Japan, where a man was reported to have stabbed a woman using a 30-centimeter-long “survival” knife, as confirmed by Police Chief Koyama.

Eyewitnesses described the unfolding drama, with one individual recounting to Japanese broadcaster NHK that a frightened woman ran towards him, seeking help while being pursued by a masked man in camouflage.

In response to the escalating situation, local officials took to social media, urging citizens to remain indoors. An “evacuation zone” with a radius of 300 meters was established around the incident site.

Approximately 60 people were safely evacuated to a nearby middle school gymnasium, where local authorities provided essential assistance, including shelter, blankets, food, and drinks.

Updating reporters on Friday, Police Chief Koyama revealed that the suspect initially stabbed a woman and then a man. He further disclosed that two police officers were tragically shot and killed, purportedly with a hunting rifle, by the suspect, who subsequently barricaded himself inside a residence belonging to Nakano City Council Chairman Masamichi Aoki, believed to be his father.

Koyama added that Aoki resided with his parents and aunt, and fortunately, his 57-year-old mother and 60-year-old aunt managed to escape the family home and were rescued by the police.

Low gun violence rate

Stringent Gun Laws in Japan Amidst Rare Gun Ownership

Gun ownership in Japan is exceptionally rare, owing to the country’s strict gun laws that make it nearly impossible to acquire a rifle. However, recent reports by NHK indicate that the suspect, Aoki, held a license since 2015, permitting him to possess four hunting rifles, including shotguns and air guns.

The Japanese government allows hunters and target shooters to own shotguns and airguns under tightly regulated conditions. Prospective firearm buyers must fulfill various requirements to qualify for a firearm license. These prerequisites include attending a comprehensive day-long class, passing a written test and shooting range test with a minimum accuracy of 95%, undergoing mental health evaluations and drug tests, and undergoing an extensive background check. The background check includes reviewing criminal records, personal debt, connections to organized crime, and relationships with family and friends.

Once individuals obtain a gun, they must register their firearm with the police and provide detailed information about the separate, locked compartments where the gun and ammunition are stored. Annual inspections of the gun by the police are mandatory, and gun owners must retake the class and pass an exam every three years to renew their licenses.

However, Japan experienced a significant shooting incident last year that reverberated both within the country and globally. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated during a campaign speech in Nara, sending shockwaves throughout Japan and the international community.

In 2022, Japan witnessed nine firearm-related incidents, including Abe’s assassination, marking a slight decrease from the previous year, as reported by the National Police Agency. Of these incidents, six were attributed to gangs and other groups. Tragically, these incidents resulted in four individuals’ deaths and two others injured.

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