clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Japanese seek knife ban for minors

Japanese police said Monday they want to ban the sales of knives to minors in the wake of two violent stabbings by junior high school boys.

The move comes after a series of crimes involving teenagers with knives came under intense media scrutiny due to Japan's skyrocketing youth crime statistics.Police have asked all knife stores and outdoor goods shops to stop selling knives to minors.

No Japanese laws set age limits for knife sales, so compliance is voluntary.

Earlier on Monday, police arrested a 15-year-old Japanese boy for attacking a policeman with a knife in downtown Tokyo in an attempt to steal his gun, police said.

The boy, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, attacked officer Yoshinari Yasuda, 54, who was patrolling on a bicycle, a spokesman for the Tokyo metropolitan police said.

The boy was arrested on charges of attempted murder and robbery. He told police he wanted to try shooting a gun.

Yasuda and the youth suffered minor injuries in the scuffle, police said.

Japan has an enviably low crime rate but in the past two years has seen the number of crimes committed by those under 18 increase by 158 percent.

Violent crimes committed by minors have also risen, alarming parents and educators.

Last week, a 13-year-old Japanese boy stabbed a woman teacher to death after she asked him why he was late for her English class.

A few days after that incident, a 16-year-old senior high school boy allegedly used a knife to assault a 16-year-old girl in class at the same school, slightly injuring the classmate, police said.

Linking all of these crimes is the weapon used - a butterfly knife - and the claims by the boys that they carried the knives for self-protection.

The handle of a butterfly knife divides in two and can be pivoted to cover the blade. The weapon gained national prominence when a popular actor Takuya Kimura, playing a tough in a top-rated drama series, brandished the blade in fights.

Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto told reporters he did not know why the boys used the knives in attacks.