Hand Grenade Crime on the Rise in Japan?

April 29, 2011

The Fukuoka Prefectural Police have released a large warning message on their homepage about a recent rise in crimes committed with hand grenades. Although we think of Japan as a place without guns, there are a few gun related crimes every once in a while. This is the first I’ve heard of hand grenade crimes in Japan, however.

The website posts in large red letters that hand grenades are designed for killing people. It lists the dangers of being within a certain range of a hand grenade blasts and advises people that if they happen to see a hand grenade –

  • Not to step on it, touch it, or throw it
  • To get away from it as quickly as possible
  • To hide behind something and protect yourself

Now, I haven’t actually seen any news about hand grenade related crimes lately, if ever. My initial guess would be that the police busted a shop illegally selling them and assumes there are plenty out there. I wouldn’t say that visitors or residents in Japan should be especially worried about being robbed by someone armed with a hand grenade, or suddenly having one thrown at you. If anything, there are people in a park somewhere treating them like fireworks, or some kind of weapon collectors who want to own a real live “Shuryudan” – the Japanese word for hand grenade.

Here is a screen shot of the Fukuoka Prefectural Homepage’s warning:

There is no English version of the warning, and the Fukuoka Prefectural page’s English version is just an auto translate through Excite, so pretty much useless. As I said above though, I think they are going a bit overboard and will be surprised if we hear of many hand grenade attacks on Kyushu in the near future.


1 Zach April 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I don’t know what prompted this or when this warning was posted, but there was a mob war centered around factions in Kurume that involved shootings and attempted bombings, both with hand grenades and the Godfather style, turn on your car engine and kaboom type bombs. However, all the the articles I remember reading all talked about attempted (i.e. failed) bombings. I’m not sure if the mob war is ongoing, but remember reading several of these articles coming out of Kyushu.

Here’s an article discussing the situation: http://www.davidappleyard.com/japan/jp81.htm

And here’s a Jake Adelstein post relaying a tale told to him by a Fukuoka police officer: http://www.japansubculture.com/2009/04/極道語:yakuza-terms-what-is-a-yakuza-pineapple/

2 jay@newzjapan May 1, 2011 at 2:51 am

Thanks for the links and great commentary, Zach. Most of my personal experience with these things are from when I lived down in Kochi and interactions with certain facets of local society were just a part of everyday life.

3 Zach May 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm

This is probably what prompted the warning on the website: http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/news/national/20110307-OYS1T00207.htm

4 jay@newzjapan May 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Yeah, a little news search seems to indicate these have been a few problems with them lately. In fact, there was also an incident in the first week of April in which two suspected yakuza members were killed when a hand grenade accidentally went off in their car.


You can see the article here, though interestingly, even though it’s come across the wire a lot of the sites (asahi news for example) seem to have deleted the article. I’ve found it repeated on a few sites though.


Hard to tell how long it will last so I’ll copy over the line mentioning organized crime.


It seems that these incidences are increasing and maybe the Kyushu syndicates have a penchant for hand grenades or were able to get a lot somehow.

Thanks again Zach.