“I have always wondered if the Japanese police carry guns. … Do Japanese police carry guns?”
Like most basic questions on Japanese police practices, this one can be answered by reading “Forces of Order: Policing Modern Japan”. Here are two relevant excerpts:
“Police officers are not haunted by fear of the sharpshooting assassin, the armed motorist, or the panicky criminal. The most dangerous weapon a police officer encounters is a knife or, occasionally, a sword. Since police officers carry nightsticks and .38-caliber revolvers, and are rigorously trained in hand-to-hand combat, the odds are solidly in their favor. They do not go in armed convoys, as has happened in American cities, and it would be considered outlandish for an officer to carry an auxiliary small-caliber pistol concealed in a pocket, as some American police officers do.”
“Over the uniform, patrol officers wear the distinctive tools of their trade. Patrolling officers carry two-way radios so that they can contact headquarters for information or assistance. In several cities officers carry a small radio receiver, located in the breast pocket, connected by a thin cord to a button-speaker worn in the ear. Patrol officers learn to live with murmuring voices in their ears and sometimes have the distracted look of people living in two worlds. The receivers allow police headquarters to send patrol officers instantaneously from one place to another, like radio-dispatched patrol cars. Police batons–“night-sticks”–are straight pieces of turned wood exactly sixty centimeters long (twenty-four inches) with a leather thong that can be wrapped around the wrist. When not being carried in the hand, they are attached to the belt through a metal loop. A .38-caliber revolver is carried in a holster and attached to the shoulder by a braided lanyard. Handcuffs are kept in a pouch on the belt. All equipment is standard issue and worn according to an identical format all over Japan: pistol on the right, handcuffs left-rear, nightstick down the left leg. There are no individual touches such as one sees on the uniforms of American police–no pearl-handled pistols or reverse-draws. Perhaps the most distinctive item of equipment is not visible–fifteen feet of light rope, strong enough to hold a man’s weight, kept in a trouser pocket. Following the ancient art of rope-tying known as Hojo, officers are taught a variety of knots and ties by which they can fashion restraining lines, tourniquets, rescue hoists, and additional handcuffs.