Wakayama City’s Crisis Management Division had a bit of a crisis themselves recently as their director Takashi Yamada stepped down after being arrested for possession of a 9cm-long (3.5inch) knife which he had used to peel some fruit earlier in the day.
He is suspected of violating the Weapons Control Law, which as I think we are all surprised to learn, covers peeling tools as well.
■ Asking for trouble
The arrest occurred on the evening of 20 March at about 10:10pm when Yamada was heading home after a post-work drinking session during which he, in his own words, “had more than usual.” When it was time to get out of the cab, Yamada did so but then sat down on the street and refused to move.
The taxi driver called police who arrived and questioned Mr. Yamada. Upon searching the 59-year-old’s backpack, and immediately arrested him for it possession of a “weapon”.
■ Is that possible?
There is a legal basis for Mr. Yamada’s arrest on that fateful night. Firstly, he was allegedly so utterly wasted that when the police found the blade in his bag, he was unable to explain why he was carrying it. According to Article 22 of Japan’s Weapons Control Law, individuals must be able to provide a legitimate reason for carrying a blade over 6cm (2.3 inches) in length.
▼ You call that a knife prohibited to carry? This is a knife prohibited to carry.
For example, if the police were to ask you why you had a steak knife in your pocket, you could say ‘to clean my finger nails with.’ Depending on the officer’s disposition he or she may just smile and tell you to have a nice day. However, if your answer is “uh…” you might be in store for some further questioning. That’s just what happened to Mr. Yamada when he was reportedly too inebriated to unravel the enigma of why he happened to have a “fruit knife” in his possession at that particular moment.
There’s a good chance that the arrest was just a way for police to get the guy off the streets so he could sober up in a cell overnight. Still, the damage has been done and as a result of his incarceration Yamada resigned as the head of crisis management in Wakayama City and forced the mayor’s office to issue an official apology.
On the one hand, it’s probably not a great reflection on the municipal government that the man responsible for the first line of earthquake and typhoon relief is out getting completely blitzed. Then again, keeping a knife in your bag does show some good disaster preparedness…