Japan actually was not one of the first to develop firearms nor did they ban the use of them. The Japanese were introduced to proper firearms in the 16th century through Nanban trade with the Portuguese through the island of Tanegashima. Through this they gained the ability to create simple matchlock arquebuses, a technology that had existed throughout Europe for a while at that point. They would be used commonly up until Sakoku and firearms were brought back during the Meiji Restoration.

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Whoops. That’s my bad.

-Michi

Partial credit. The Japanese did originally get introduced to guns in the mid 16th century by Portuguese traders. Initially they loved them, and put a great deal of effort into refining the technology. By the beginning of the 17th century they had more firearms than any other nation and, some of most advanced designs of the time. (Arguably the most advanced firearms.)

There was also serious social opposition coming from the Samurai. The gun represented a direct threat to their place in the social structure, it disrupted their concepts of warfare and combat. And because they were the core of the government, they were in a position to dispose of that threat. Which, they did. It was never a formal ban, per say, but production was initially limited to government contracts only, and then the government stopped ordering guns.

A number of European governments had attempted bans, but always found themselves at a severe disadvantage when facing forces armed with guns in warfare, while in Japan, there wasn’t a similar external threat.

The result was that Japan effectively banned guns, in all but name.

There’s a very abbreviated version of this story in Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, but honestly, that’s a fantastic resource to work through before you start world building in general, so, go ahead and read it if you haven’t. Also, his book Collapse might be useful for those of you planning a dystopic setting.

-Starke

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