Man in Japan Prosecuted for Overly Long Scissors

Japan is well known for its strict gun laws. But it also severely restricts carrying any blade that can be regarded as a weapon. One poor guy found that out the hard way when police took him into custody for carrying…scissors.

The man, A, is in his 40s and works at a facility for the disabled. (He himself reportedly suffers from a “light” mental disability.) The incident occurred last November 27th. After encountering some unspecified issue, A pulled over his car into a parking lot to decide what to do next.

That’s when a cop from the Yao Station in Osaka pulled up. The officer somehow caught sight of the scissors, which A had bought at a 100 yen shop to cut a tag off a product. He then put them into a door pocket and promptly forgot about them.

What happened next was fairly wild. The officer held the man until other officers could bring a pair of calipers. Their goal: to measure the scissors to see if they violated the Swords and Firearms Control Law of 1958. That law prevents carrying around a blade longer than 86 centimeters.

The scissors measured 86.86 centimeters.

A hefty fine

Man holding katana
This blade is definitely longer than 86 centimeters. (Picture: Josiah / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

After questioning, the man didn’t hear anything for two months. Until the police decided to file charges with the prosecutor and take him to court.

In court, the prosecutors charged that the man had been warned by another cop about having the scissors in his car already. His defense lawyer maintained that the cop had simply warned him that keeping the scissors in the car was “dangerous”.

Unfortunately for him, the cops had compelled him to sign an affidavit. In it, he “admitted” to carrying the scissors around “knowing” that it was illegal.

His defense lawyer argued that the man was tired and afraid and had just wanted to go home. They claimed he didn’t say most of what was printed in the affidavit.

Unfortunately, the court rejected his claims and found him criminally liable. Due to his lack of any prior convictions, the punishment was limited to a fine of 100,000 yen (around USD $762 at current rates).

Attorney Yoshiai Oji said prosecutors probably pursued the case because they figured the man would confess. However, he says prosecutors should have considered that the man had a mental disability and had no prior convictions.

On Twitter, journalist Aoki Miki called the story “hideous” – a sentiment echoed by other users, who also labeled the prosecution “a waste of tax dollars and time”.

What to read next

99.9%: Is Japan’s High Conviction Rate a Product of “Hostage Justice”?


「0.86センチ」の差で有罪「罰金10万円」 事務用はさみが車にあるのは「危険な犯行」? 大阪・銃刀法違反事件 〈dot.〉Asahi AERA Dot

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