Samurai; Wikimedia Commons

The arrival of guns in 1542  dramatically changed the nature of war in Japan. The aristocratic Bushi warrior class, however, thought firearms were undignified and preferred swords or spears. In fact, the cult of the sword persisted into the Second World War, when Japanese officers carried  swords – even in the jungle.

In 1588, after re-unification of Japan’s feudal states under a strong central government, possession of swords and firearms was banned for commoners. When the Government forbade samurai to wear their two traditional swords in 1876,  thousands arose in the Satsuma Rebellion. Rejecting the use of muskets, they were crushed by a conscript peasant army using firearms.

During the early 20th century, gun control was slightly relaxed. But as the military increased domination of civilian life in the 1920s (and “government by assassination” surged) strict gun control was enacted.

Read more:  Japanese Gun Control.