The 64-year-old president of a Tokyo-based replica airsoft gun manufacturing company was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing lethal replica airsoft revolvers.
It is unusual for an airsoft gun manufacturer to be arrested for possession of his or her products.
According to the police, Yoshimoto Tanaka, president of Tanaka Works in Kita Ward, Tokyo, is suspected to have violated the Firearms and Swords Control Law by possessing 867 units of an allegedly deadly replica gun, the Casyopea model, on Oct. 7, when the MPD searched the company.
The Metropolitan Police Department suspects Tanaka manufactured and sold the products even though he was aware of their deadly nature.
An industrial group to which Tanaka Works belongs has refused to issue a safety certificate for the model due to its alleged hazardous nature.
In an experiment, the MPD found toy guns of the series can fire real bullets without any modification and are powerful enough to shoot the bullets through six four-millimeter-thick wooden boards.
"If the series is illegal, all other types of airsoft gun must be illegal," Tanaka told The Yomiuri Shimbun before being arrested.
Airsoft gun enthusiasts have been engaged in fierce debates on the Internet and elsewhere over the potential deadliness of the Casyopea since it was released in July.
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry concluded four types of the model were subject to the law controlling the manufacture of firearms and other weapons.
The ministry ordered the industrial group and others to recall the products.
According to the MPD, about 2,000 of the toy guns have been put on the market, and about 500 have been recalled.