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The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday in Japan sent shock waves through a country that has some of the most stringent laws involving purchasing and owning a firearm.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, died after being shot during a campaign appearance for a candidate ahead of national elections slated for Sunday.

The police arrested Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, on an initial charge of attempted murder before Abe’s death was announced. Yamagami is a former member of the military and used a homemade gun in the attack, Japanese media reported.

Abe, 67, was shot in the chest and neck.

Japan rarely sees gun violence, and Friday’s assassination has many in the country stunned.

“This is a profanity against democracy,” Nobuo Kishi, Japan’s defense minister and the brother of Shinzo Abe, said of the shooting. “Especially suppression of free speech should not be allowed in the midst of the upper house election. We pray for his definite recovery.”

What are those laws and how many incidents of gun violence does the country see? Here’s a look at the country’s laws and where it places in gun violence in the world.

What are Japan’s gun laws?

A Japanese citizen cannot own a handgun as they are banned in the country. A person can purchase shotguns and air rifles only if they pass all the requirements for gun ownership.

· According to the gun control law passed in 1958, to buy a gun in Japan, citizens must first join a hunting or shooting club.

· They must then attend an all-day class on gun handling and gun safety, take a written exam and take a shooting-range test that they must pass with a mark of at least 95%.

· There is a criminal record check, in addition to a police investigation into any possible links to extremist groups.

· A person looking to purchase a gun will undergo a mental health and drug test and their relatives will also be investigated.

· If the person passes those tests, they can then apply for a gunpowder permit and get a certificate from a dealer that states the kind of weapon that they want to purchase.

· A gun and the ammunition used for it must be stored separately and kept under lock and key.

· Police must be notified where the gun and ammunition are stored.

· Police will inspect weapons once a year.

· After three years, the gun owner must attend the day-long course and pass all the tests again.

· Police can deny gun licenses and can seize weapons.

· The law also restricts the number of gun shops in a certain area.

In 2017, an estimated 377,000 guns were held by civilians in Japan, according to the Small Arms Survey, a project of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

The country’s population is 125 million, meaning there is an average of 0.25 guns per 100 people. In the U.S., there are around 120 guns per 100 people.

“Ever since guns entered the country, Japan has always had strict gun laws,” Iain Overton, executive director of Action on Armed Violence and the author of “Gun Baby Gun: A Bloody Journey Into the World of the Gun,” told the BBC.

“They are the first nation to impose gun laws in the whole world and I think it laid down a bedrock saying that guns really don’t play a part in civilian society.”

“The moment you have guns in society, you will have gun violence, but I think it’s about the quantity,” Overton said. “If you have very few guns in society, you will almost inevitably have low levels of violence.”

How do gun violence statistics in Japan compare to the rest of the world?

Japan sees very few instances of gun violence. In 2021, there were 10 shootings that contributed to death, injury or property damage, according to the country’s National Police Agency.

One person was killed and four others were injured in those 10 shootings. The figures do not include accidents or suicides.

There have been mass killings in Japan, but they did not include the use of a gun. In 2019, 34 people were killed in an arson attack on an animation studio.

Gun violence and death by country

Latin American countries and the United States see an extraordinarily high number of gun deaths. On the opposite end, Japan has an extremely low number of shooting incidents.

Almost 90% of those killed by gun violence in 2019 were men. The highest number of homicide deaths occurred among people 20-24 years old. Those 55-59 made up the largest number of gun-enabled suicides.

Here, from the World Population Review, are the countries with the highest total gun deaths (accidents, murder, suicide) in 2019.

1. Brazil — 49,436

2. United States — 37,038

3. Venezuela — 28,515

4. Mexico — 22,116

5. India — 14,710

6. Colombia — 13,169

7. Philippines — 9,267

8. Guatemala — 5,980

On this list, Japan would be 70th with 76 gun deaths including accidents, homicides and suicides. Suicides by gun accounted for the majority of those deaths.

Even as news of mass shootings have become more frequent in the United States, during the past 20 years, about 60% of the gun deaths in the U.S. each year were suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.