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Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/10 09:30
So I generally carry around a knife with me, it's like an everyday pocket item just like my keys and phone, and regular tool for me. But I'm moving to Japan in a little over a year from now and I heard the knife regulations can be pretty strict. The problem is I keep hearing contradictory info on this subject, could anyone clear this up me? Like the legal length of the blade or if they're just plain illegal? Thankyou! :]
by :] (guest)  

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/10 13:30
In short, you can't carry a knife its length of a blade is over 6cm.
http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%8A%83%E7%A0%B2%E5%88%80%E5%89%A3%E9%A...
And the policemen can detain you,
if you carry the aggressive tools (such as knife) without a justifiable reason.
http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%BB%BD%E7%8A%AF%E7%BD%AA%E6%B3%95
by ajapaneseboy rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/10 16:24
So, if I have a knife (a foldy one) that has a blade less than 6cm it's ok? Though, I wouldn't have a justifiable reason that could pass. I wouldn't care if at worst they confiscated it, I'm just worried about criminal charges, or worst getting deported.. O_O It's an eerie thought.
by :] (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/10 19:18
:] Just save yourself the potential hassle and don't bring it -anything to make life smoother and hassle free!
by Stewy63 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/10 20:53
if I have a knife (a foldy one) that has a blade less than 6cm it's ok?
O.K.You are not arrested by carrying it alone.

But, when you are involved in trouble, policemen maybe make a thorough investigation of you because of your knife.
Then if you run a way to hide it, it's the worst situation.
So I think having the knife is taking a risk in Japan.
by ajapaneseboy rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/11 14:37
hmmm.... ok I get it then. I might have to agree, and not carry it atleast. Most the time any way. Or really be on my best behavior.

Thanks for the help!
by :] (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/12 13:19
There was an incident of an elderly American tourist who went into a koban to ask for directions to kinokuniya book store, in response the police asked if he was carrying a knife and so the old man showed them his little pocketknife which was 1cm over regulation and the 74 year old man got arrested
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20090728hn.html
So be careful...ocassionally japanese police like to target foreign looking people....be careful the rules are much more strict when you look foreign...they would never arrest the thousands of japanese ojiisan with various knives like fishing knives etc for their hobbies but foreigners are fair game for the occasional bored racist policeman.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/12 14:23
My husband and I always carry a little credit card type Swiss Army Knife: but take it in checked luggage then transfer it.
It has everything you'd need for daily activities like cutting fruit, slitting wrappers etc. His even has a light!
As a 3 x tourist traveller to Japan, and not overly young, I have not encountered any issues with assistance from anyone, and have always found the Koban staff to be exceptionally helpful.
We sat on a stone wall and shared an onigiri, and persimmon, cutting them with said knife, right outside the Koban near Pontoncho, and then went in asking for specific directions: and were smilingly taken right to where we were headed.
So, be aware of the regulations re size, and use with discretion and common sense. Do not fear asking responsible authorities for assistance.
by fmj rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/12 14:41
O.K.You are not arrested by carrying it alone.

Actually you can get arrested solely for carrying a prohibited knife.

...they would never arrest the thousands of japanese ojiisan with various knives like fishing knives etc for their hobbies
but foreigners are fair game for the occasional bored racist policeman.


That's not a particularly good example of police racism since there is a specific exemption to allow for carrying knifes for reasonable activities. Fishing and hunting are such examples, however walking around downtown Tokyo is not.

There may also be a bit of reporting bias going on here. I recall a few incidents of people getting in trouble for carrying knifes in the wake of the Akihabara stabbings, but the case of the American traveller was the only one to get widely reported in the English media. Now in that specific example, it was strange for the police to ask an obvious tourist if he was carrying a knife especially since the law hadn't yet taken effect, however at this point consider yourself duly warned. If you prefer to carry a knife (and I am one of those that do) make sure that it is shorter than the legal limit.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/12 15:23
Yllwsmrf explains it well. While gun crimes are very scarce in Japan, the main weapon used for crimes are things with blades, typically knives.

It was a couple of days ago that a (Japanese) teenager was questioned by the police while walking down the street and had his knife discovered. The teenager is suspected to be responsible for several recent stabbings and the police has hopefully prevented a future crime by keeping an eye on ordinary pedestrians.

Bottom line, you don't really need over- 6cm or any illegal blades while walking in the city, so don't carry them unless you have a very good reason.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/12 17:44
It seems reasonable for a tourist as you are away from home you do not have access to various tools, my father often likes to carry a swiss army knife when travelling for odd jobs and emergencies. (However, perhaps it is too difficult for them to include tourism as reasonable due to the perceived threat of international terrorism? not sure)
I don't understand the law but I am sure it was not intended to be used in this way.
Unfortunately it is true that foreigners are automatically perceived to pose a higher risk of criminal intent and so are more likely to be targeted for questioning etc.
I guess the point is do not carry an illegal sized knife and even if police do target you for questioning you will be OK.
The trouble is not all tourists can be expected to have an in depth knowledge of japanese law...so police should use discretion when implementing it against harmless 74 year old tourists with a pocket knife. Sadly as so often happens, rules and laws are so rigidly upheld in Japan that sometimes people forget to keep in mind the original aim behind their creation.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/12 18:47
It seems reasonable for a tourist as you are away from home you do not have access to various tools, my father often likes to carry a swiss army knife when travelling for odd jobs and emergencies.

Yes, and the law agrees that it would be reasonable for a traveller to carry a knife. The question is what is considered a reasonable length blade. The law allows for a 6 cm blade (although I recall it being 5 cm), which is plenty long enough for most daily tasks. Perhaps it could be longer or shorter but that is up for debate. The other option would be to word the law to allow blades "of reasonable length" but that just raises a variety of other issues.

I personally find the law to be rather pointless, and think it will have very limited usefulness in stopping violent crime as long as knives of all lengths are readily available.

I don't understand the law but I am sure it was not intended to be used in this way.

Such is a common complaint of laws in general. Its an unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on which side of the table you're sitting on) consequence. Think of the patriot act for example. That law has caught far more drug smugglers, child pornographers, and a host of other criminals that it has terrorists.

I guess the point is do not carry an illegal sized knife and even if police do target you for questioning you will be OK.

Yes, I'd have to agree.

The trouble is not all tourists can be expected to have an in depth knowledge of japanese law...so police should use discretion when implementing it against harmless 74 year old tourists with a pocket knife.

It is undeniably a travellers responsibility to abide by the laws of the land that they travel in. Not being aware of them is no excuse.

That said, discretion should have been used in that particular case. And it actually should have never progressed beyond a verbal warning since the law hadn't yet taken effect.

Sadly as so often happens, rules and laws are so rigidly upheld in Japan that sometimes people forget to keep in mind the original aim behind their creation.

The American man that was arrested seems to have been a special case, and the law may not have been followed correctly according to some accounts. There hasn't really been any cases like it reported since.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/13 08:07
I know exactly which story you're talking about with the 74 year old guy. The police in the case seemed to over-react a bit I'd say, but the cops really seemed to make it into a big deal because the guy wouldn't sign the release form because he couldn't read it, so they took that the wrong way. It seems there was lots of misunderstandings with both parties.

I wonder if I'd get targeted as foreigner..? Aesthetically, I look very goth/visual kei so maybe I could blend in, in one manner of speaking..? I'll be living just outside of Tokyo, and be going into the city everyday, so I know there's others that look similar to me in the area.

Regardless, I'll make sure my knives are short enough, and if not I'll just shorten them. But I have a question: Would it look less suspicious to have a knife in my pocket or in the bottom of a backpack, if I were ever to get searched? I feel like having it in the bottom of a backpack would make it look like I'm trying to hide it, were as having it in my pocket would make it seem like I have no reason to hide it. What do guys think?
by :] (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/13 09:45
In reality there's really only a small chance that you would ever be stopped and questioned, and an even smaller chance that that would lead to you being searched. Its not something that I would even worry about, and in any case there won't be any problem whatsoever if your knife is shorter than the legal limit.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/13 10:45
I think the question has already been answered, have the knife short enough and you can keep it wherever you like.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

the meaning of "carry (keitai)" 2011/12/13 11:46
I agree that the local police usually seek criminals among residents and not tourists, but I didn't understand the part where Gilesdesign says, "It seems reasonable for a tourist as you are away from home you do not have access to various tools."

What the law says is basically that you are not supposed to be "walking around in the streets" with a knife. In this, tourists and residents both equally "do not have access to various tools" as residents keep their tools at home, too, and do not take their tool box to their offices or schools or friend's homes.

For example, if you are a foreign chef coming to cook in Japan for a week, you can bring in your knives legally and keep them secured at your hotel. But there is no reason for you to take them along to a touristical visit to a museum or a souvenior shop. As for other people, they can ask their accomodation to see if they can rent a tool or two from them whenever they need one.

Similarly, nowadays you can't even carry your shaver into an aircraft wherever country you go to, but you are free to bring it in your checked luggage so that you can use it in your hotel bathroom. It's the same thing.

I don't have anything against people who carry knives just as a habit, but I think the law simply is saying, "Think well. Do you really need that knife now?"
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/13 13:25
there won't be any problem whatsoever if your knife is shorter than the legal limit.

Have you looked into the laws regarding this?

I may be misunderstanding it but I think it's illegal to carry a knife around without good reason even if it's less than 6cm long. It's only legal if you carry it in a way that it's easily seen by the public. It's illegal if you carry it in your pocket or backpack. You can be detained or fined for it.

by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/13 14:39
The link that ajapaneseboy posted says that Swords and Firearms Control act was ammended to prohibit blades from 5.5 to 15cm. There is no mention of regulation on knives shorter than 5.5cm

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%8A%83%E7%A0%B2%E5%88%80%E5%89%A3%E9%A...
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/13 22:32
Wow. The story from JapanTimes is so frightening and shows such a lack of judgement on the part of the police. This story will make me seriously reconsider visiting japan. It would be terrifying to be jailed for days in japan.
by Cd20 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Knife Regulations in Japan? 2011/12/13 22:56
Poster of 2011/12/13 13:25 wrote;

I may be misunderstanding it but (snip) It's only legal if you carry it in a way that it's easily seen by the public.

Whoa, at least in Japan, that looks like the most dangerous type of people you can get! You will immediately be notified to the police by anyone who sees you!
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

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