A recent Washington Post article (July 8, 2022) on the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe says

Last year, eight of the 10 shootings in Japan were related to the yakuza, according to the National Police Agency, resulting in one death and four injuries.

I'm aware the definition of "mass shooting" can change depending on the source (e.g. USA discussion ).

I'm looking for an authoritative source (Japanese government agency, academic research project, etc) that has some statistics on mass shootings for a number of years. English is preferred, but a source that google translate will work with is also acceptable.

  • 52
    As I understand it, 10 is the number of shootings in Japan. Not mass shootings. Japanese do not usually shoot each other, so the number of mass shootings might well be zero.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:27
  • 38
    It sounds like they had 10 shootings the resulted in one death and four injuries which would lead me to believe that they had zero mass shootings
    – Joe W
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:30
  • 9
    It might just be better to list mass shootings in Japan, since percentage rates are unlikely to be very meaningful for rates of far less than one per year.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:50
  • 14
    It is not true that Japan's gun suicide rate is similar to the US. It's about 1000 times lower adjusting for population. See the figures in my answer. Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 18:07
  • 11
    Most countries measure years between mass shootings rather than shootings per year Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 17:10

3 Answers 3


In 2019 Japan had 3 gun deaths. The USA had 39707.

Let me repeat that. Three gun deaths. That's total deaths, not homicides. Less than 0.03% of the figure for the USA after adjusting for population.

Now 2019 was a remarkably low year for gun deaths in Japan (though not the lowest), and if you go back twenty or thirty years you will find years where there were 50 or 60 deaths - still only 0.3% of the US rate after adjusting for population, and the vast majority of those are suicides.

Since the most accepted definition of a mass shooting is when four or more people are killed by a gun, this means it is pretty certain that Japan has zero mass shootings in a typical year. Those that happen are very rare. Wikipedia supports this, listing three mass shootings over the last hundred years - one of those wouldn't count in a US list because only two people were killed, and another reaches the total of 4 deaths only by including the shooter's suicide. The last time an incontrovertible mass shooting happened in Japan was 1938 - before the current strict gun laws.

Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in the world (ironically imposed on them by the USA after WWII).

  • 7
    Note that if you look at the wiki article for the mass shootings it's not exactly what an American would term a mass shooting: In one case 2 people and in another case 3 people died. Going by your definition of 4 or more dead, the last (and only) mass shooting in Japan occurred in 1938.
    – Voo
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 20:21
  • Considering the atrocities the Japanese committed against the Chinese, Filipinos, POWS, et. al., I would say that the imposition on them was not ironic.
    – paulj
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 22:17
  • 2
    @paulj "Ironically" because the law was imposed by the country with the current highest rate of mass shootings, not because there was no reason to impose it.
    – maganap
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 7:15

For a country that prides itself on its low gun crime, the shooting death of former leader Shinzo Abe has come as a great shock - 9 Jul 2022.

Japan, with a population of 125 million, had just 10 firearm-related criminal cases last year, resulting in one death and four people wounded, according to police.

Eight of those cases were linked to organised crime syndicates known as yakuza.

Tokyo had zero gun incidents, injuries or deaths during that same year, although 61 guns were seized there.

Although major universities in Japan have rifle clubs and Japanese police are armed, most Japanese people go through life without ever handling, or even seeing, a real gun.

Stabbings are more common as a fatal crime. And so the debate over the right to bear arms is a distant issue in Japan and has been for decades.

The last time a former prime minister was killed was in 1936 during Japan's pre-war militaristic build-up, one of a series of similar assassinations.

Also, Shinzo Abe's death isn't Japan's first political assassination.

"Mass" killings have occurred in Japan, but they were not shootings.

In 1994, the group Shoko Asahara killed 8 people and injured 500 people in one attack using sarin gas. In another sarin attack that year they killed 13 and injured 980.


Less than one a year.

I don't think they collect specific "Mass shooting" statistics but this site compiles all deaths involving guns in japan GunPolicy.Org. As a commenter shared, the Wikipedia page has three entries Mass Shootings in Japan.

I think the political question underneath this is:

Why doesn't japan have US style mass shootings?

I believe that access to guns is surely one factor, but the biggest reason is their culture and society.

Japan has a culturally homogeneous society where children feel invested in their community and country. They have a culture of responsibility, respect, and traditional values. Such a society produces very few of the nihilistic, vengeful individuals who go on to commit mass shootings in the US.

In addition, a study on what US mass shooters had in common pointed to family violence, and a culture of idolizing other mass shooters as two major factors.

We can also point to countries such as Switzerland and the US itself before around the 1960s. Those countries had extremely high gun ownership but also had a homogeneous society and traditional culture. Nihilistic mass shooting events like we see in the modern US were practically unheard of despite the wide availability of guns.

With a similar number of guns available US mass shootings have been rising dramatically. What has changed is the US's culture, it's transformed from a Christian society with enlightenment values and hope for the future, into a hodgepodge of different cultures, peoples, and values. Many modern Americans feel increasingly disconnected from the society that they live in, disconnected from any spirituality, often without an intact family or any positive male role model. It's no wonder that so many become nihilistic, bitter, and vengeful and then act that out with a murderous attack.

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    This is surely the wrong way round. It is true that Japan has a less individualistic society, and that Japanese citizens are less likely to be involved in violent crime in general. However, if you cannot get hold of a gun, you cannot shoot someone. That's the bottom line. Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 9:24
  • "I believe that access to guns is surely one factor, but the biggest reason is their culture and society." Unless you can back that up with something other than conjecture I'd remove that sentence. This is not Reddit.
    – Douwe
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 14:10
  • @douwe I expanded on my reasoning why cultural change is the driving factor behind the increase in mass shootings in the US Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 5:56
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. I didn't say Japan has a less individualistic society, I said more traditional, responsibility focused rather than entitlement focused. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:39

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