UK conservators face jail under proposed samurai sword ban

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UK conservators could face a fine or a 6-month jail sentence for possession of an offensive weapon if proposed legislation to ban Japanese swords is passed. Japanese art swords, popularly known as "samurai swords", are the subject of a proposed amendment to the Criminal Justice Act. The swords would be classed as "offensive weapons" if the amendment were accepted, and their importation, possession and sale within the UK would become illegal.

John Nandris, the European Vice-President of NBTHK (the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords) has written to the Home Office to request a special exemption from the Act for collectors and conservators of genuine Japanese art swords. Dr Nandris points out that an indiscriminate ban would adversely affect the work of museums, private collectors and academic institutions, as well as placing them under threat of prosecution for carrying out work on such swords.

The ban on Japanese swords has been proposed following a spate of high-profile attacks involving similar weapons. There are already 17 weapons banned under existing legislation, including knuckle-dusters, blow-pipes and sword-sticks. The Home Office is currently considering whether to add Japanese art swords to this list - and, if so, whether to make any special exemptions for collectors, researchers and conservators.

Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon)

Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, European Branch website

Banning offensive weapons consultation pages -- Home Office website