Guns and hunting in Japan? Most westerners
think that guns are outlawed in Japan. The truth is that local Japanese cannot own
handguns, but are free to purchase shotguns and rifles. Im presently stationed with
the Air Force at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. It is a combined U.S. fighter wing as
well as Japanese Self Defense Force Base. This area of Japan is considered
"country" and consists of farms and mountainous terrain. Presently, there are
only two Americans who hunt this area. The cost of hunting is fairly expensive (approx.
$800.00) which probably limits the number of people hunting.
The process to receive ones license is fairly detailed. First a written test on
game laws is required. Then another game identification test is taken. This is followed by
demonstration of firearms safety as well as distance estimation. Finally off to the the
skeet range for shotgun qualification. This process was completed in 2 days.
Any competent person can own a shotgun or rifle. All firearms have to be
registered with the local police department and when registered, a "blue book"
containing information on the firearm is received. The blue book must be in possession
whenever transporting or hunting with the firearm. After being a registered hunter for
more than 10 years, one may use a rifle for hunting (axis deer, bear). New firearms are very
expensive. For example a new model Remington shotgun may cost the local hunter over
$3000.00. For many Americans, the used gun market here offers many bargains. Fully
functional shotguns can be purchased from $30.00 on up. Since stationed in Japan,
Ive purchased a few Belgium A-5s as well as SKB over/under, side by side as
well as a few rifles well under the blue book prices. Bird hunting is our main focus here,
Misawa being a duck hunters paradise. Redheads, spotbills and pintails abound. Three
different variety of pheasants can be hunted also. Due to the high cost of hunting, crow
hunting became our method of recouping some of our expenses.
In Japan, crows are thought as evil birds. Farmers especially despise them due
to the damage to the rice and vegetable crops. Because of this, the govt offers a bounty
on crows. During four special seasons, the govt of Japan offers a bounty of 500 yen or
about $4.75 on each crow. What we do is set our hunting area close to the local dump.
Crows frequent this area and it is not uncommon to see flocks of more than 100 birds
flying at a time. We hide our vehicles under a tree and play the "fighting
crows" tape. What happens next is fast and furious action. Last week, I had 50 crows
circling 20 ft above my head. I couldnt reload fast enough. We save the feet as
proof of kill. I use a Belgium Browning A-5 with a modified choke and my partner a
Remington 870 also with a modified choke. Besides providing more enjoyable practice than
going the the skeet range, crow bounty will allow us to recoup most of our cost.
Roy Fukuoka, Maj,USAF, NC