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Is Japan becoming a 'drug heaven?'

50 Comments

“With so many people buying drugs, is Japan’s future secure?” It’s the sort of complaint you hear from time to time, but the speaker is no bastion of the established order; he’s an alleged pusher, one of four, including a 42-year-old Iranian, arrested in July.

Japan, says Friday (Nov 21), is becoming “drug heaven.” To users, drugs are innocent fun, like alcohol or cigarettes. To law enforcers, they represent moral breakdown. Forty years on from the freewheeling ’60s, the conflict has yet to be resolved.

What alarms Friday is the spread of marijuana and stimulants beyond the club scene to college campuses and suburbia. In October, Kanagawa police arrested two Keio University students. It was the tip of the proverbial iceberg. “People toke up openly on campus,” the magazine hears from one Keio student. “It’s not just a matter of five or 10 people.”

Since 2003, no fewer than six Keio people have been arrested on drug charges -- one of them an American English instructor. The latest arrests prompted the university to hold a press conference, where three of its top administrators bowed their heads in apology.

In September, a fourth-year Doshisha University student was detained for alleged possession of 3 grams of marijuana. She reportedly told police she had smoked some 250 times: “Smoking with my friends feels so good, I just couldn’t stop.”

A club employee in Roppongi seems to confirm Friday’s worst fears. “Lately, it’s not unusual to see college students toking up. Smoking marijuana at clubs and at raves is just everyday stuff now.”

Police statistics tell the same tale. Last year nationwide, there were 3,282 arrests for alleged marijuana use, a record which the current year looks set to break. Some 70% of those arrested are in their teens and 20s.

“One gram of marijuana costs about 6,000 yen,” a police source tells Friday. “It’s easy for young people to get. And marijuana is likely to be a kind of gateway to the use of other drugs.”

Marijuana for students, stimulants for housewives and office workers -- that seems to be the developing trend, Friday says. At one time, the hub of the drug traffic was entertainment quarters like Kabukicho, but security cameras installed there as part of a metropolitan crime-fighting campaign had the predictable effect of scattering the trade to the suburbs. Groups of Iranian sellers are rife, the magazine claims, in prosperous Tokyo neighborhoods like Shirogane and Takanawa. They operate more or less openly. How’s business? One seller can reportedly make 70 sales a day, for an annual income of 200 million yen.

“Many of the sellers handling stimulants and other narcotics are Iranian,” says an investigator. “Many of them here illegally.”

The stuff they sell used to come primarily from China, but a crackdown there stimulated the forging of fresh procurement connections in Europe and Canada. It’s a hydra-headed commerce. A crackdown here shifts the problem there, for a while, but an inexhaustible demand seems to fuel an inexhaustible supply, and the authorities of today seem no closer to stamping it out than the authorities of 40 years ago.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Sheeeeeeeeeeeesh!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about over-reacting, it's not like Japanese are some sort of superhuman race of people or sum'tin!! I'm suprised that people waste their money on drugs when there is a paridise of prostitution, alcohol, gambling and loafishness. Would parents feel better know their daughter was whoring, their son was chasing prostitutes and up all night drinking. Is it better to be addicted to ghambling and an alcoholic? Japan is rife with vices and there are many examples of their destructive power. One might be a drunk dragging someone 3km. ..........errrrrrrrrrr.......Anyhow this cultural arrogance smacks of propaganda. This article should be titled Some Japanese Choose New Vices

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Independent scientific studies conducted worldwide largely conclude that cannabis is not physically addictive in the medical sense, nor does it lead to harder drug use. Additionally, there are no documented cases of anyone dying as a result of a cannabis overdose.

The long and rich history of cannabis in Japan has almost been forgotten after five decades of U.S. imposed strict prohibition

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Added a point to sensationalist journalism, everyone go and buy a gun now because the next step up is 'crime heaven'.

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Japan a drug heaven! Now thats an overstatement!

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Rubbish. There aren't enough drugs here.

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Japan should address the drug that is most destructive to its society: alcohol. Too many drunks in Japan.

(Mods-The article is "drug haven". Alcohol IS a drug and is very prevelant in Japan. My post is not off topic.)

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I guess we can call the speaker Joe Friday. Just the facts maam. So Friday dosn't admit that he's part of the problem for spreading drugs. He did a victimless crime in the club scene. I think he needs to shut his mouth. Quite trying to weasle himself out of trouble.

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Japan, says Friday (Nov 21), is becoming “drug heaven.”

Compared to where, Singapore?

Personally, I'd rather have people get baked than have them get so strung out they drive trucks into crowds, but I guess that isn't the Japanese way.

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Are you kidding, this is just a slam on kids and foreigners, Japan is no drug country try America, UK, Europe or Australia for drug countries.

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what a load of crap. can't stand this idiotic propaganda. what happened to fair journalism? how about presenting true facts, opinions from both sides of the story and let people decide.

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Japan and the Japanese, just like people in many other parts of the world have stress, some drink alcohol to try to forget their problems now we are seeing people smoking marijuana to feel better. This article says the Iranians are handleling this drug trade but anybody with have a brain knows that the JAPANESE YAKUZA are the one behind the Iranians, Africans, Turks etc...

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This article, like all others, seems to mention the gaijin dealers a lot. Why not mention the Japanese dealers and the Japanese buyers?? The Japanese need to be held responsible for their actions. Every freaken time I hear about drugs in Japan foreigners are ALWAYS mentioned.

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To users, drugs are innocent fun, like alcohol or cigarettes.

That's half accurate: not innocent, but all of those things are drugs.

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6,000 Yen for a gram of grass? What're y'kidding me? How's this a drug heaven? An average Joe can get a quarter oz (7 grams) of bud for that without hardly trying on any day of the week almost anywhere in LA. I won't go into all the other stuff that can be scoured up except to say it's a veritable pharmacopeia of fun. Lemme tell ya, 6kY for a gram of dope is practically extortion.

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Many asian countries are especially scared of smoked drugs, and this is mainly due to history. Opium did topple China and allowed it to be defeated by a european upstart ^_^. Now, I don't think cannabis specifically is worse than, say, alcohol, nor is it a gateway drug, if it weren't for the fact that it's illegal and the dealers might also deal in other drugs.

I think Japan is scared of 1) like China, productive citizens start to smoke more than they work. This is unlikely though, as even drunks in Japan uphold their responsibilities (which is uncommon in other countries). Also, cannabis is not physically addictive, like Opium. 2) Cannabis will lead to heavier drug use, or many people are ignorant of cannabis, and think it's similar to heavy drugs. This would then lead to violence and increased crime.

The solution is easy, sell cannabis legally, but in limited amounts. If people can get cannabis for parties legally, they dont risk getting into trouble with the Yakuza/triads, and the amount of cannabis in each joint can be regulated. There's a risk however, as people aren't as used to the effects as they are to alcohol they might OD or otherwise get into a situation were they loose control and kill themselves or others.

I think the best action right now is to inform the public about cannabis, its real effects and dangers, and how responsive smoking (wether it's illegal or not) is as important as responsive drinking. Especially, smoking cannabis is as bad as smoking tobacco, it kills your lungs.

I've never heard of a high profile suicide/murder by someone in Japan under the influence of cannabis though.

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It’s easy for young people to get. And marijuana is likely to be a kind of gateway to the use of other drugs.

Sure, much like porn, beer, and cigarettes...but as long as the government can tax and regulate it, we'll continue to look at weed as the gateway to dystopia.

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Japan is not and will never be a drug heaven.Who writes this crap ??

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Oh my goodness...someone bring this author back to reality....LEGALIZE IT...eliminate the crime element (traffickers and illegal’s seeking an open drug market), apply government controls, allow legitimate businessman to profit, tax it and let the police and investigators get back to bullying high school kids...take the money out of the bad guys hands. Of course no politician will do the right thing in this arena because it is not a popular decision.

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Oh my goodness...someone bring this author back to reality....LEGALIZE IT...eliminate the crime element (traffickers and illegal’s seeking an open drug market), apply government controls, allow legitimate businessman to profit, tax it and let the police and investigators get back to bullying high school kids...take the money out of the bad guys hands. Of course no politician will do the right thing in this arena because it is not a popular decision.

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Whoever wrote this article didn't make much research and clearly is a moron! Although, the title made me laugh for quite a while!!! "JP = drug heaven"... yeah, right, WHATEVER!!! "JP = DRUNK HEAVEN"!!!

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he is right in that you can go to Roppongi and get a delivery in no time at all.. it is turely everywhere there..

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Japanese law takes a clear stand against it. The authorities are pretty inflexible and tend to believe the official line quite anally. You get caught, you get paraded and vilified by the press. Not as bad as some SE Asian countries where you can face the death penalty. Here it is a prison sentence, and a regime of re-education where you will have to show contrition, and a criminal record. You are wrong. Point blank. Almost no middle ground. The populace follows the official line, and there is absolutely no understanding of the differences in the various drugs. Mayaku is mayaku. Narcotic drugs and all the value judgements and baggage that come with the concept.

Some of the readers here are calling for legalization. Er... dream on.

Even in Britain, where they are years ahead in toleration of marijuana, the issue has not been compeltely resolved. There is an uneasy wavy line and the classification, and laws, on possession, smoking, selling cannabis, keep changing backwards and forwards. How many years will it take Japan to arrive there? Not in my lifetime...

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To international standards, no where near a "drug heaven". Lets look at the volume of drugs in any Japanese city in comparison to any other city in the world. Tokyo has twice the population of NYC and has no where near the problem. No where near the problem of London, Rome, Madrid, or even Hanoi, and I've worked in all these cities with Xenon-Eimo. Nagoya is about the size of my hometown Chicago, and again not even a fraction of the problem. To the "safety Japan" elite, of course.

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I think it is hardly for Japan to be a "drug heaven", but this article raises the alarm of the increase of drug use (like marijuana) in young people... but i think that the mayor problem is drinking, not smoking (how many drunks are in Japan?), although a smoker like myself recognizes the harm in smoking cigarrettes (I don't smoke weed, since i'm allergic) I consider drinking more harmful than tobacco, how many accidents for driving drunk?, and the cirrosis (I don't know the name in English) is not a pretty sight....

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Er, I hate to be anal about this, but shouldn't the title read "drug haven"? Drug Heaven sounds like someplace where drugs go after they 'die'.

As for the content of the article, I don't believe that a proper survey or study was done as it seems to focus on Tokyo and maybe the seedier parts of town. Personally, I haven't seen any drug use anywhere and I DO know the signs quite well. However, I don't frequent 'red light' districts and I don't live in Tokyo. Perhaps it's the overactive imagination of paranoid Japanese extremists.

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Agreed ionobugs, haven would be more natural. I tried to find the original article by Friday but gave up.

Occasionally I have sniffed a familiar waft of suspicious smoke in recent months, and I live way out in the bundu, so it must be spreading under the surface...

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Is Japan becoming a 'drug heaven?'

Not at the current prices.

Just saying.

Taka

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6000円 for a gram of shake.

Perhaps the title should read: Is Japan becoming a Dealer Heaven?

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according to my Chinese dorm buddy, living in a dorm in Tokyo with me in 2002-2003, weed is abundant, cheap, and easy to get. He claimed to smoke up all the time, with no problems from authorities. He also seemed respectable, so that may have made the J-police think he was not a threat. Still, if it was possible back then, it should be possible now. I'm wondering why the media is drawing light to this issue now, rather than years ago.

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and for the record, he lived on the third floor, I lived on the ground floor, and i talked to him pretty much only at breakfast in the cafeteria. So I can't verify his account, but I'm just sayin'...

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What alarms Friday is the spread of marijuana and stimulants beyond the club scene to college campuses

Um...who do they think was doing the club scene if not college students? Dumb writing.

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I love popping a few e's at my famous pool parties with a nice dose of poppers of course.

Why is Japan so old fashioned, chill out honey's . Drugs are fun, Japan would be more fun with some good e and acid.

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The more they crack down on it, the more expensive it gets and dealers get richer. Why not just legalise it? I don't know about Japan but in Australia about 75% of people are in jail for drug offenses and it costs $50 000 a year to keep one person in jail. If the government simply legalised it the benefits would be 1) saving on police, 2) savings on prison, 3) less people have criminal records, 4) it's easier to treat people who want to stop if it's not a crime, 5) no illegal dealers 6) the government can grow and sell the drugs legally and make money through sales and taxes.

And yes, I'm talking about all drugs. I think most people are clever enough to try them a few times and stop. People who really want to take drugs all the time can do it if they are illegal or not.

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Oh, yeah, right, marijuana is contributing to the decay of the social fabric of Japan, sure. Cos it was such a stronghold of ethical morality before, wasn`t it? Easy access to child porn, chikan on trains, collusion between gov and business, price fixing between companies, bullying at every level of the society, DV, one party rule for most of the last 60 years, rampant consumerism, the rape of the environment, the concreting of the coast, cheating husbands, cheating wives, corrupt and incompetent police, a media in collusion with goverment and business fat cats.

Oh, yeah, marijuana is the major contributor to the breakdown of the fabric of Japanese society ;p

P.S. all the media attention is a con by the media to distract the public from bigger issues.

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oh, and make the fat, lazy, incompetent cops look busy.

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Of course not. What nonsense. Marijuana is a soft drug and much less addictive than alcohol, which does not imply that the government should not impose limits on its usage. What is taking place here now is the same as what happened in the west in the 1960s. No big deal. Condone some of the action, and you keep the thugs, mafia, yakuza and underworld at bay.

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Condone some of the action, and you keep the thugs, mafia, yakuza and underworld at bay.

Sounds more like they are picking on a few cases here and there, insinuating the whole thing is run by illegal Iranians, and nary a whisper of thugs, mafia, yakuza, underworld. The wheels keep getting oiled and the odd scapegoat gets named and shamed, and the yakuza gets to rotate their foreign front people at regular intervals. Stops corruption and people building their own turves or trying to go independent.

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Oh, yeah, right, marijuana is contributing to the decay of the social fabric of Japan, sure. Cos it was such a stronghold of ethical morality before, wasn`t it? Easy access to child porn, chikan on trains, collusion between gov and business, price fixing between companies, bullying at every level of the society, DV, one party rule for most of the last 60 years, rampant consumerism, the rape of the environment, the concreting of the coast, cheating husbands, cheating wives, corrupt and incompetent police, a media in collusion with goverment and business fat cats.

Oh, yeah, marijuana is the major contributor to the breakdown of the fabric of Japanese society ;p

Best post I've seen in a while.

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Yeah, four marijuana vending machines for every person...

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The main points I got from this article: the american instructor, the iranian dealers, the drugs from China. Evil foreigners corrupting innocent Japanese youth.

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It's also quite ironic to read this after all the drunk drivers stories... maybe Japan needs to worry more about the drugs that are widespread: alcohol and tobacco.

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I imagine right wing elements will try to capitalize on this issue claiming foreigners are to blame.

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Based upon a Japanese magazine article? That was one of the reasons listed for Mainichi online restructure. Better be careful J.T.

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To solve this problems is to establish new strong restricted-low. One of the reason why it is so easy to get these sort of drugs is because of weak low. It's illegal to have hemp but not illegal to have SEED of them. It is very nonsense. The low should've been changed earlier.

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Perhaps attention should be shifted to the STAGGERING amount of annual suicides in Japan every year, rather than worrying about imaginary and theoretical damage from drugs. It must also be said that for pharmaceutical companies, Japan definitely IS a drug heaven. The companies are making SKYRILLIONS of dollars/yen from all the Japanese drug users.

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Well England, America and many other countries with drug-cultures seem to be alright, they haven't broken down yet:)

This is typical Japanese paranoia, nothing else.

Alchohol gets people hospitalized and killed, yet it is still legal in Japan. Cigarettes get people hospitalized and killed and they too, are legal in Japan.

I think these people need to open their eyes to reality, rather than possibility.

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Drugs are very damaging to society in general, and I don't think you can point me to any honest, long term study on the subject that suggests otherwise. Remember the Opium wars with China? Drugs, including and perhaps most importantly, cannabis, can cause irreversible brain damage. Effecting social interaction, new memory retention and a number of other factors that are important for any productive member of society. One noted Psychologist pointed out that Cannibas use was like playing, "Russian roulette" with your brain.

The cost of lost productivity and the increased dependence of those who habitually use drugs, especially from those who start young, to society is greater then the cost of working to suppress drug-use among a population.

So what is my point? I am not out trying to say how evil and how damaging marijuana is. I know many former and some current users of the drug. I interacted with, on a professional basis, one of the top Medical Marijuana Attorneys in Seattle, and they (him and his office staff) were very bright and intelligent people. I think both sides of the issue tend to overreact and overstate their arguments

On the one side you have the, "drugs are bad, drugs are from the devil and they are the root cause of all evil"

On the other side you have "bro--------------...." OK just joking, "drugs are completely harmless! They do no damage, it costs more to fight, just make them legal, everyone will be responsible! We need to find a middle ground, I am vehemently apposed to the use of drugs by the underage and I think anyone caught selling drugs to grade-school junior high, or high school should spend the rest of their miserable and despicable lives hunting for mine fields in third world countries so school children don't accidentally step on them.

For adults? It's their choice, maybe a fine to get the money they made without reporting the taxes?

My solution? that would take an article in itself, but basically get people off drugs in a calm, effective way that focuses on those who use the drugs us much or more so then on those that sell them. Get rid of the demand and the supply wont bother.

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Always blame it on the "foreign" criminals- total BS its all controlled by the yakuza

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Ditto what boboh says.

Let me add that I think the high number of absentee-fathers thanks to the practice of tanshin funin (単身赴任) is far more pernicious to Japanese society than a few kids smoking herb and have told the cops so when I was being interrogated for drugs smuggling. (For more on this search Google for Aonghas Crowe No. 6 Cuckoo )

“It’s easy for young people to get. And marijuana is likely to be a kind of gateway to the use of other drugs.”

This is a myth. You know what is a real gateway to drug use? That beer resting on the coaster to the right of your keyboard.

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This article is so pathetic I don't know where to begin complaining: getting weed in Kabukicho -- who goes to the most heavily policed area to score? Nonsense. And who really thinks that a foreigner can sell drugs on any street corner without Japanese permission?

And stop confusing marijuana -- which has historically been used in Shinto ceremonies, medicinal, manufacturing, and dietary purposes -- with debasing drugs (like meth) that is, again, historically a Japanese drug.

It is an sad form of racism, the kind regularly pandered to on shows like Asahi's Super Morning, Friday, and as a Lebowski fan, I resent the mis-guided analogies.

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