June 29, 2018

Toyam Police Officer

An attack where least expected

Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world, yet a recent case highlights that an attack can emerge when least expected.

A 21-year-old former Ground Self Defense Force member surprised a police officer in Toyama, stabbed him, and took his revolver.  The attack continued as he went to a nearby school and shot a security guard in the head.  Both the police officer and security guard died on the scene.

The attacker was engaged by responding police and the other school guards, shot in the stomach and apprehended.  He had four large knives on him at the time of his arrest and all of the stolen revolver's rounds had been fired.

The school later complained that they were not informed that the attacker on their grounds was armed and the National Police Agency stated they would review the quality of their holsters to see how they can prevent weapons being taken from their officers in the future.

Lessons Learned

While Japan waits for the deranged young man to explain his motives for the attack, we can draw a few key lessons from this tragic incident.

First, it should be obvious an attack can occur at any time without any obvious warning.  While there are always pre-attack cues that can be discernable when you are aware and looking for them, quite often people only put the pieces together after the fact.  Even in relatively safe locations, including Japan, situational awareness is essential.

Second, legislation does not provide security.  Personal firearms are outlawed and carrying pocket knives will net a two-year mandatory prison sentence.  The Government of Japan wants their people unarmed.  It is the only the highly dispersed regional identities can be assembled into anything resembling a modern nation-state.

Yet such legislative prohibitions do not stop people from obtaining or using weapons.  Japan is relatively safe because of the relatively homogenous society that has been conditioned to avoid conflict, not heap their problems on others, and strive toward social harmony after one thousand years of warrior hegemony.  It is culture counts, not legislative dictates.

Third, gun control a means of keeping guns out of the hands of citizens is a myth.  Armed police are required to enforce these prohibitions and anyone committed to an attack can obtain one by taking it from a government agent.  This is a classic insurgent strategy.  The insurgent determined to undermine the state, whether politically motivated or not, has the luxury of time.

Police are human beings and are just as prone to distraction as anyone else.  The bureaucratic management found in modern policing agencies offers all sorts of stimulus oriented on just about everything other than tactical readiness.   Eventually, they will let their guard down and an attentive attacker can take the weapons off of their corpse.  In this case, the attacker distracted the police officer by knocking loudly on the neighborhood police box where the officer was posted.

Fourth, Japanese police are mandated to participate in either judo or kendo as part of their continuing education.  It is important to note that these are fighting sports and not actual combat systems.  The rich martial heritage of the samurai was oriented on edged weapons combat.  The samurai used tools to do their fighting and the consequences were life and death.  The reality of edged weapons combat cannot be replicated through sport fighting.  This, coupled with the low crime rate, leaves Japanese police officers largely disregarding the gravity of potential threats.

Take Heed

We, the living, must heed the lessons of this tragic attack in order to honor the sacrifice of those who have lost their lives to a deranged killer.  Self-reliance is the foundation of building a safer, more secure world where everyone can thrive.  The real warrior is here to serve society by protecting those in their care.  This requires facing reality.  It means we need to stare soberly at the worst humanity can offer and stand ready to intervene skillfully.

This is why samurai began cultivating martial skills, oriented on edged weapons combat, from an early age.  On the fifth day of the fifth month or the fifth year of their lives, samurai boys left their mother's embrace to be inducted into training.  By the time they reached adolescence a samurai had years of daily training under their belt that conditioned them in the ways of the blade.

Obviously, a society that supports a martial culture like that is long gone, even in Japan.  Even Japanese police have forgotten what real samurai training entails.

Acquiring readiness and useful skill is now an individual responsibility.  Fortunately, the internet is making it much easier to learn from those with practical experience.  If you want to be ready for whatever comes your way, check out: https://www.everydaysamurai.life/RealDefense