Police have arrested two boys for the crime of duelling, blaming the influence of shonen manga.
Saitama police effected the arrest of a 15-year-old labourer and a 16-year-old schoolboy for allegedly arranging a duel in which the pair did do battle in such a manner as to render diverse injuries to each, including a broken index finger.
Police describe each as the member of a separate gang of roughs, with the duel arranged to determine which gang would be merged into the other as subordinates.
Police proclaimed manga was to blame for the “duel”:
“There are all kinds of manga in circulation which depict youths challenging each other to duels as heroes, and these only encourage young boys to aspire to violence.”
Apparently the fact that the boys were already in gangs was less of a factor in the crime than the availability of shonen manga in the prefecture, as was the general tendency of Japanese history to glorify duelling swordsmen as the epitome of honourable conduct.
Japan’s archaic anti-duelling law actually stems from its Meiji period modernisation, the ban being enacted in 1889 to stop quarrels over honour degenerating into bloodshed. Moderate prison sentences are prescribed for anyone involved with organising or conducting a duel.
Police were able to charge them with duelling, an extremely rare charge, due to the mutually consenting nature of the fight.
There are a number of previous cases of police choosing to apply the law to schoolboy fights, with police apparently using the archaic law as a way of securing prosecutions in cases where simple assault charges might not stick.