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The "Hemp in Japan" library

See also:
See also: Hemp in Japan Library index

Hemp prohibition in Japan:
     Paul McCartney arrested for Marijuana (1980)
     A prisoner in the War On Drugs (1996)
     Legal hemp in Shizuoka (1997)
     No decriminalization of cannabis in Japan (1996)
     Japanese marijuana "information" (1995)
     Marijuana use increasing in Japan (1996)
     Hashimoto taking drug battle to school (1997)
     Not much success at interdiction (1997)
     Cannabis eradication in Japan (1998)
     8.3% of students interested in trying drugs (1998)
     Bags of marijuana float ashore (1997)
     100 kg of hashish hidden in furniture (1998)
     Ross Rebagliati: Hempen Hero (1998)
     Japanese citizen to be hanged in Philippines for Marijuana (1994)
     Industrial Hemp in Japan (1999)

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"Youth drug abuse increasing, with marijuana topping list"

Drugs are steadily becoming a serious problem in Japan. It is not only that more people are abusing drugs, but also that the abusers are getting younger.

[The following paragraphs discuss 'stimulant drugs' (amphetamines) which account for 90% of all drug arrests or 15,000-17,000 per year, which are no longer sold only by yakuza but also by illegal aliens.]

The most notable increase of drug-related arrests among young people is being seen in marijuana, which has become "fashionable" and is regarded as a "way to make friends" among young people, said Yoko Akimoto, chief of the Narcotics License Subsection in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Pharmaceutical Affairs Division. Tokyo accounts for 40 percent of 1,555 marijuana arrests in Japan last year, 72 percent of which were of suspects less than 30 years old.

"People should have correct knowledge about the negative side of drugs, including its damaging effects on the brain. Looking at current conditions, though, in which only one page of junior high school physical education textbooks discuss drug problems, I cannot say enough preventive education is done at schools," said Shunzo Abe, planning director of the Drug Abuse Prevention Center. Moreover, he continued, since teachers do not have enough knowledge about drugs themselves, there is no guarantee that they actually teach about drug problems at all.

"We still get rejections from schools when we ask for permission to bring our drug-abuse awareness car filled with detailed explanations and pictures of drugs' effect on various body parts. They do not want the car in their school yard because they do not want neighbors to think their school has students with drug problems. Drugs are still regarded as taboo subjects."

Kyoko Itoh, staff writer
Japan Times
October 3, 1996

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Not much success at interdiction

Police officers harvest marijuana plants, Asahi Shimbun (Oct 10, 1996) A report released on February 19, 1997 by the Ministry of Finance indicates that the number of successful drug smuggling busts has been decreasing in the major categories.

The number of narcotics smuggling cases in total decreased by about 6% to 381 in 1996. The amount of marijuana confiscated decreased 7% to 179 kg.

Virtually all of the amphetamines confiscated was due to two interconnected busts of Chinese smugglers. But that isolated success allowed the overall amount to set a new record. One wonders how many such large shipments got through.

Only cocaine confiscation figures increased, from 22 to 26 kg.

based on a Japan Times article
February 20, 1997

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Cannabis eradication in Japan

Every year in May and June, local governments across Japan ask the population for its help in eradicating illegally cultivated opium poppies and cannabis hemp, providing pictures of these plants and telephone numbers to call when such plants are found.

However, the timing of the campaign is most odd for marijuana eradication. Hemp plants don't flower until the autumn, between late August and November and often are not even sown yet when the eradication month is held. The reason why the event takes place so early in the year is that it is the flowering season of the opium poppies. The marijuana eradication aspect was added as an afterthought, as marijuana was banned in Japan over a century after the ban on opium.

Opium and cannabis eradication 
information in Saitama prefecture

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Hashimoto taking drug battle to school

"Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who heads the government's antidrug office, took his message to a Tokyo high school Saturday and urged students to stay away from illegal narcotics.
About 750 students of Takedai High School in Arakawa Ward attended the class, where they listened to Metropolitan Police Department officers talk about the dangers of drug abuse.
When he took the rostrum, Hashimoto said he was shocked when a child tried to sell him marijuana while traveling in Nepal for mountain-climbing.
He called on the students to make Japan a country where it is no use Nepalese children to learn how to say in Japanese they have marijuana to sell.

According to the NPA, 10,120 people were investigated on suspicion of violating the Stimulant Drug Control Law in the first half of this year, up 4.6 percent from the same period last year.
Students in junior high school and high school accounted for 128 of the cases, a 37.6 percent increase from the same period last year.
The NPA fears that the number of students investigated for illegal drugs this year will become the most ever, topping last year's 235.
The government's antidrug headquarters decided in April to hold a drug-abuse prevention class in all of the nation's roughly 5,500 high schools.
From April to August, about 1.77 million students at about 3,100 high schools attended the class."

Japan Times
September 21, 1997

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8.3% of students interested in trying drugs

"Some 8.3 percent of senior high school students in urban areas are interested in experimenting with drugs such as narcotics and paint thinner, according to the results of a survey released Sunday by the Management and Coordination Agency.

According to the survey, which covered some 26,000 second-year senior high school students in 14 cities across the country, 9.4 percent of male respondents and 7.2 percent of female respondents said they are interested in trying drugs.

Asked what kind of drugs, 50.5 percent said narcotics, 36 percent paint thinner, 31.6 percent marijuana and 18.6 percent cocaine.

As for their reasons, 66.5 percent said they are curious, 26.3 percent said they wouldn't mind trying drugs just for kicks, and 12.9 percent said they want to relieve fatigue.

Of the female students who want to try drugs, 23.5 percent cited dieting as a reason.

While 90.3 percent of the students surveyed, including those not interested in experimenting, are aware that the use of drugs like narcotics, paint thinner, marijuana and cocaine is illegal, 20.4 percent feel that drug use is a matter of personal choice.

The survey was conducted last June and July [1997] in 14 cities across the country."

Japan Times
January 26, 1998

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Bags of marijuana continue to float ashore

"Several bags containing large amounts of marijuana, handguns and bullets have floated ashore along the coasts of Wakayama, Chiba, Kanagawa and other prefectures since March last year [1996], according to police officials.

The amount of marijuana found in the bags so far totalled more than 100 kg, which would go for Y 500 Million [over US$4 million] or more on the street, the officials said.

Investigators suspect that the bags belonged to smugglers bringing in illegal drugs and weapons by sea. The smugglers may have accidentally dropped the bags in the sea as they passed the goods to their Japanese counterparts aboard boats offshore, the officials added.

The bags were all similar in type, and the marijuana was packed in the same way in each of them. Police are looking into the possibility of a large-scale smuggling operation by an international group, they said.

In the latest case, a resident of Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, alerted police after finding a sports bag that had washed ashore in late August. Police recovered about 30 kg of marijuana and three revolvers from the bag.

The bag was made of nylon, and has a rope that had apparently tied it to something. The marijuana was placed in small vinyl bags, each containing 1 kg.

In March 31 last year, a bag containing 40 kg of marijuana was found on a beach in Chikura, Chiba Prefecture.

In July last year, police seized 30 kg of marijuana, nine Philippine-made handguns and 500 bullets from a bag that washed ashore in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Also, a similar looking bag containing marijuana and handguns was found on a shore in Tokyo Bay last summer, police said.

The Chinese smuggling ring Snakeheads is believed to often use the offshore method. The Snakeheads and their Japanese counterparts arrange the date and place for delivery of smuggled goods. The smugglers tie bags of goods to a buoy and drop them by a rope into the sea. The Japanese side arrives later to retrieve the goods, according to the officials."

Japan Times
September 15, 1997

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100 kg of hashish hidden in furniture

"Four men have been arrested in a drug bust at a warehouse in Kanagawa Prefecture that netted a record 100 kg of cannabis resin - in apparent violation of the Hemp Control Act, police said Thursday.

Police said the four, all Japanese, were arrested Tuesday when they came to the warehouse in Sagamihara to pick up imported furniture in which the drug, with a reported street value of Y800 million, was hidden.

The drug was the largest amount of cannabis resin in a single seizure in Japan.

According to police, the furniture arrived at Yokohama port aboard a freighter from Indonesia earlier this month."

Japan Times
October 16, 1998

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Ross Rebagliati: Hempen Hero
Neil Hartmann, Earth Shop, Sapporo

"The 1998 Winter Olympic games are over and done, but their effect is still being felt in Japan and around the world. After snowboarding for ten years, hosting my own TV program on snowboarding, and learning to speak fluent Japanese, I was given the honour of having the best possible seat for the first ever Olympic Snowboard Halfpipe competition.

The competition began on February 8, with minimal presence from Japanese media, who are known for only covering events with Japanese competitors. Since there were no Japanese snowboarders, their media turnout was rather weak for Ross Rebagliati's gold medal performance.

That all changed on February 9 however, when it was announced that Rebagliati would lose his medal due to a pot-positive pee test. The Japanese media had finally found something they could cover, and for the next two days the papers were filled with articles concerning the decision. Debates were held on TV with panels ranging from professors to actors. One of the most common wrap-up comments heard from reporters was something to the effect of "loose morals in other countries can lead to problems like this." The overall opinion of the Japanese media? Marijuana is bad and Rebagliati should have his medal taken away. Even after his medal was reinstated, TV shows rambled on endlessly about how the Olympic Committee had made a big mistake and the medal should definitely be taken away. Many argued that Rebagliati should face charges in a Japanese court.

It is unfortunate that such uninformed people should be in a position to create and influence public opinion, but in Japan it is very difficult to voice an opinion that goes against the laws.

During the two days before the medal was returned, I spoke to many of the Japanese staff involved in the snowboard competitions. Not once did anyone question why marijuana was even being tested for. The only thing anyone ever said was "mottainai" (what a waste) or "Taima suttei baka da ne" (he's a fool for smoking marijuana). The most common comment was "snowboard ga image warukunaru ne" (now snowboarding will have a bad image). Again and again I was reminded how far Japan has to go towards proper marijuana education.

Yet all in all what happened was not only good for Japan but for the hemp/marijuana movement world wide. Thanks to Ross Rebagliati, the movement to legalize cannabis got a big boost and some great press. He proved to Japan and to the world that you can smoke marijuana and still win a Gold Medal and be a hero for your country."

Neil Hartmann, Earth Shop, Sapporo
in Cannabis Culture issue #13:
"Cannabis Culture in Japan" (August 1998)
(CC#13 and other back issues still available)

See also:
See also: 51% of Canadians want marijuana decriminalized
See also: Ross Rebagliati articles at

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Japanese set to hang in drug case

BACOLOD, Philippines (Kyodo)
"A Philippine court sentenced a Japanese national to death Wednesday for illegally trafficking drugs. Hideshi Suzuki, 38, from Nagoya, was arrested April 12 when police allegedly found 1.9 kg of marijuana inside a biscuit box in his possession. He is the first foreigner to be given the death penalty since capital punishment was reintroduced last Dec. 31 for 13 crimes, including drug trafficking [1]. Suzuki was about to board a plane at the airport in Bacolod, 475 km south of Manila, when he was arrested by police and narcotics agents. He has claimed that the box was given to him by a Filipina acquaintance and that he did not know it contained marijuana.

Judge Edgardo de los Santos said the death penalty for Suzuki was meant to be an "example". But Suzuki's lawyer, Ernesto Treyes Jr., described the decision as "cruel" and said he would file a motion for a new trial. The court also imposed a fine of 10 million pesos on Suzuki. If the court denies his motion for a new trial, the decision will automatically be reviewed by the Supreme Court since it involves the death penalty."

Japan Times
December 8, 1994
  1. Capital punishment had been abolished after the end of the Marcos dictatorship but was reintroduced by president Fidel Ramos. It can be imposed for cases of trafficking of more than 750g of cannabis. On February 5, 1999 a convicted rapist was the first person to be executed after many years. Many people have already been hanged under similar draconic laws in Malaysia and Singapore (the latter country executes 6 times more people per million inhabitants than communist China and in 1994 executed twice as many prisoners as the entire USA which has almost 100 times the population of Singapore.

    123 members of the diet (the Lower House of the Japanese parliament) led by Nobuaki Futami (NFP) signed a petition to save the life of Mr. Suzuki.

  2. In May 2004, the Philippine Supreme Court revoked the death penalty for Mr Suzuki, who by then had spent almost ten years on death row. His sentence was reduced to 40 years in prison.

    SC Saves Japanese From Death Penalty

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Previous chapter:
See also: Hemp Prohibition in Japan (part 1)

See also:
See also: Hemp in Japanese history and culture
See also: Hemp prohibition in Japan
See also: Other Japanese hemp-related sites

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