by Cody McLaughlin - Monday, March 8, 2021
As many readers of NRA’s Hunters’ Leadership Forum website know, Japan has been at the forefront in recent years when it comes to the promotion of hunting and hunter safety, and the country is stepping up yet again.
Japan’s Environment Ministry just announced it will create a system to certify experienced hunters as instructors in order to address shortages in efforts to mitigate deer and wild boar overpopulation. Trials, which start in April, are being planned to suss out content and the mechanism for hunter certification with a target to bring the entire program online by 2023. The plan is for soon-to-be certified hunting instructors to accompany novice hunters and give hands-on training on hunting and outdoor skills from scouting, shot placement, after-shot care and even trapping. The instructors also will teach applicable hunting laws and regulations to students.
These certified hunters will be expected to work with students on a fee-for-service basis, creating new hunting industry jobs in rural mountainous areas of Japan. This is a continuation of longstanding policy in Japan aimed at recruiting new hunters that this website reported in 2018—including instituting a “Hunting Business School” in the city of Kimitsu, in the Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo. The school also teaches locals how to use game meat in everyday cooking and even restaurant applications.
Japan’s Hunting Culture on The Rise
The Environment Ministry, which tracks hunting license numbers, has noted an uptick in recent years in the number of young people especially who are getting their hunting licenses. According to a Japan Times article, “The number of people in their 20s with licenses grew from 2,100 in fiscal 2006 to 7,500 in fiscal 2016, and the number of such people in their 30s rose from 8,400 to 15,600.”
The ministry’s publicity efforts, along with partnership at the local level with concerned governments and private landowners over damage due to exploding deer, boar and bird populations, are driving the recruitment numbers.
A Predictable Remaining Hurdle
While Japan certainly has made strides in getting hunting licenses to young people, it consistently ranks high among the nations with strict and regressive gun laws. Applicants must attend a lecture, pass a written test and practice with a police-provided 12-gauge shotgun. Once permission is granted, a gun must be purchased from a licensed dealer. The buyer must then take it to the police to show it is the same gun for which he or she applied.
This begs the question, as we have asked before, how to surmount gun control as an obstacle to hunting expansion. Japan’s Environment Ministry even admits it is unsure of how many young people have opportunities to use those licenses after they are acquired—and cites the difficulty in getting started as a top reason for that. One way to make it easier would be to ease restrictions on legal firearms ownership for aspiring hunters in Japan.
If Japan wants to keep building on hunter recruitment successes and use hunting as a viable wildlife management tool, it will have to do more to make hunting accessible than just train potential new hunters. It will have to give its people the tools they need to make harvests.
About the Author
Cody McLaughlin is a noted conservationist and conservative thought leader on public policy issues including hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He is a consultant for conservative political causes, managing clients’ digital communications and online presence, and a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, helping to represent the state’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena.
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