The Japanese Ministry of the Environment has announced that they will begin gradually regulating the use of lead ammunition beginning in 2025 in order to prevent the poisoning of wild birds. Hunting has become quite popular in the island nation, however, authorities in the prefecture of Hokkaido have already enacted a similar lead ammunition ban back in 2000. This most recent Japan Lead Ammunition ban comes as a response to a survey conducted that showed that lead poisoning was present in several species after lead pellets were consumed by waterfowl.
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Japan Lead Ammunition Ban to Be Completely Enforced by 2030
While it may seem like firearms ownership is outright banned in Japan, a firearms community does exist within the country and in particular prefectures, hunting is not only allowed but encouraged. Shinjirō Koizumi has been the sitting politician occupying the position of Minister of the Environment since 2019. In a statement made on the 10th of September, Koizumi said the following in regards to the announcement of the lead ammunition ban.
We will work to gradually introduce a nationwide lead poisoning regulation system from 2025 with the aim of eliminating the occurrence of lead poisoning in birds.
Koizumi stated that there have been many cases of waterfowl dying from lead poisoning following deer hunting season as hunters leave behind lead shot fragments which are then eaten by the local birds. The ministry aims to have a complete lead ammunition ban across the entire nation for both rifles and shotguns by 2030. While some prefectures such as Hokkaido already have wholesale lead ammunition bans for rifles, ammunition still makes its way into the territory and continues to cause damage according to minister Koizumi.
While both the environmental and health harms that lead can cause are widely known, it is somewhat unprecedented so far for a nation to enact an all-out lead ammunition ban. Japan’s Lead Ammunition Ban, if fully enforced, will be the first of its kind to go into effect. Japanese hunters and outdoorsmen will have to switch to alternative projectiles that will hopefully be better for the environment.
Lead is used for firearms projectiles because of its inherent physical properties of great density and affordability. However, lead ammunition can also leave particles in the environment leading to lead poisoning from frequent exposure and as stated above, animals can also ingest lead fragments or shot leading to them being poisoned as well. While not the most popular option, alternative options such as steel, copper, and tungsten shot do exist as well as other lead-free projectiles that still perform very well when compared to their lead counterparts. I’d like to hear your opinion on the subject, is this a good move for the environment, and should we be considering similar ammunition bans in the United States for hunting purposes?