Thursday, December 04, 2008

Toy gun maker held over lethal models

Tokyo police on Tuesday arrested the president of Tanaka Works, a maker of toy guns, for allegedly possessing hundreds of "air soft" guns that are considered lethal weapons.

It is the first time police have served a warrant defining an unaltered toy air gun as a lethal weapon, they said. The warrant was served to Yoshimoto Tanaka, who heads the Kita Ward-based firm.

The air guns are Tanaka Works' Cassiopeia-brand revolvers, which went on sale in July. Police have been trying to recover about 1,950 of them that were put on the market.

The air guns are capable of shooting metal bullets and are as lethal as real handguns, the police said.

Tanaka Works sold them without undergoing voluntary checks by an industry body, the Air Soft Gun Kyokai.

Tanaka, 64, is suspected of possessing 867 Cassiopeia revolvers as of Oct. 7, when investigators raided the firm's head office, the police said.

In an interview with before his arrest, Tanaka said he does not understand why his company was searched, noting its products are made of plastic.

"We sold products that were a dream to buyers," he said.

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