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It is not difficult to find good coffee in Japan. Though it has more of a reputation as a country of tea drinkers, coffee is very popular in Japan. There are many small coffee shops selling a variety of coffees and teas. Cans of coffee (200 ml for 110 yen) are also available at literally millions of vending machines all over the country.
If you go to a Starbucks coffee shop in Japan [Starbucks is the largest US coffee shop chain] you will find many different kinds of beans but none that is decaffeinated as the company has found it impossible to get Health Ministry approval to import decaffeinated coffee. Decaffeinated coffee is virtually unavailable in Japan! It is hardly surprising in a country that treats the removal of caffeine as a health hazard that the most popular illegal drug is "speed".
Caffeine is also the main active ingredient in numerous so called "health drinks" that sarariman (office workers) use to stay awake while working overtime or on the next day after a long night out drinking.
Though not many people in Japan are aware of the fact, pharmacologically caffeine belongs in the same category of drugs as cocaine and amphetamines. They are all stimulant drugs. One major difference of course is that caffeine is legal while cocaine and amphetamines are not, but that has not always been the case. Cocaine was first made a controlled substance in 1914 and amphetamines were given the same status in the 1950s. As early as 1542 coffee was banned in the Ottoman (Turkish) empire, where coffee had been introduced from Ethiopia and Yemen, and coffee drinkers were persecuted by the authorities much like modern day drug users. Later the ban was revoked because it could not be enforced and coffee became a source of taxes.
When the Turkish armies were defeated in Vienna and retreated they are said to have left behind bags of coffee beans. Vienna became the location of the first coffee houses in Western Europe and from there the custom spread to other German principalities. Little over 200 years ago some of these states still paid a reward to anyone who informed the authorities about people secretly drinking coffee at home.
In low doses the effects of caffeine and cocaine are indistinguishable. Tea made from the leaves of coca plants which is popular in Bolivia has the same refreshing effect as caffeine based drinks. The original recipe for Coca Cola contained not caffeine but cocaine and it was advertised as a medicinal drink. Nowadays Coca Cola still contains coca leaf extracts, but the cocaine is removed and caffeine is added instead.
When used in high doses caffeine can cause heart problems and, given very high doses, even lead to death. There are cases of people having died from taking too many caffeine pills (which are used for treating migraine headaches or to stay awake). The lethal dose of caffeine is a fairly safe 75mg per kg of body weight. By comparison the lethal dose of THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana) is about 13 times higher, around 1000mg per kg of body weight.
Besides caffeine roasted coffee beans also contain about 800 other
chemical substances, some of them only in very small quantities of course.
Of 21 of these substances that have been tested on laboratory animals
16 have been shown to cause
Despite this we generally regard coffee as a very safe drug and do not prohibit its use. By the same standards cannabis should also be legal to use by adults.