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Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
How Does Japan Get That Low Crime Rate, Anyway?

Today’s Los Angeles Times has an article that illuminates the difficulty of citing Japan’s low crime rate as evidence that gun-control is a factor.

In a Column One story titled “Victims of a Safe Society,” the Los Angeles Times details how the relatively low rate of private criminality in Japan is achieved by massive police criminality: beating suspects so severely that they are permanently crippled in order to obtain confessions, a massively high rate of false executions and imprisonment, and virtually no penalties for police who commit these crimes.

“Many foreign people think Japan is a highly developed, advanced, democratic country, and it is,” says Hideyuki Kayanuma, an attorney for an American entertainer who was permanently crippled by Japanese police who suspected him of drug possession. “But especially in the field of criminal justice, it’s a Third World country. There are no human rights.”

Civil-rights attorney Kensuke Onuki says, “It’s almost like Midnight Express.”

In addition to beating of suspects, sleep deprivation to achieve confessions, and common torture of arrestees, the article describes a Japanese criminal justice system with virtually no bail, strip searches for traffic violations, and a conviction rate of 98% – about that of Stalinist USSR. In contrast, of 12,615 complaints of torture and abuse filed against police over the last 40 years, only 15 cases were tried, and only half of that 15 resulted in punishment for police officers.

Citing “a typical example,” of Japanese justice, the article tells of a day laborer released after 16 years in prison. The laborer was coerced into a false confession during six months of detention in three different police stations outside Tokyo. During that time, the laborer says, “officers beat him on the head with fists, trampled his thighs, and ordered him to ‘apologize’ to a photo of the dead woman as they burned incense for her spirit in the interrogation room. They interrogated him for a total of 172 days as much as 13 hours a day.”

Other methods of interrogation, according to the Times article, involve telling suspects that their families will suffer if they don’t confess or that an interrogation won’t end without a confession. The article cites human rights attorneys who have estimated forced confessions to be as high as 50%. Suspects may be held in custody for up to 23 days with no charges, bail, right to an attorney, or court supervision.

Nor is there much objection to this brutality by the Japanese public. The Japanese Civil Liberties Union has only 600 members, as compared to 280,000 ACLU members. Instead, says the Times article, “most Japanese place a high degree of confidence and trust in police and assume that suspects under arrest probably committed the crime.”

Those who wish to cite Japan’s low murder rate as proof that gun control works had better think again. And if after reconsidering the issue they still advocate the Japanese approach, those Americans who value the concepts of fairness and justice would do well to understand what the goal of those who advocate gun control actually is: the importation of fascism to America.

– February 27, 1992


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is An Overview of the Statistical Case

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