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See also: Stimulant drugs in Japan.

Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jun 1999
Source: Japan Times
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times

Youth endangered by surge in stimulant use, police warn

Police have confiscated 1,132.8 kg of stimulants in the first six months of 1999, surpassing the 1-ton level for the first time in any year, the National Police Agency said Wednesday.

Large-scale busts in the first six months, such as one in Chiba that netted over 200 kg and one in Osaka that yielded a similar amount, helped push the figure past the previous yearly record of 650.8 kg set in 1996.

Alarmed at the rise in drug use, especially among the nation's youth, the agency declared in January 1998 that the country had entered a period of rampant stimulant abuse.

Although authorities are increasing efforts to intercept amphetamine-type drugs, mostly methamphetamines, that are coming into the country, police officials admit the amount they have managed to seize so far is only "the tip of the iceberg" and are increasing efforts to cut drug abuse.

Key factors in the rise in big confiscations have been increased cooperation between police and customs and maritime safety officials, as well as more information exchange with overseas investigators, according to the agency.

However; smuggling rings appear to be improving too, using ships with high-tech navigational equipment and transferring shipments at sea rather than on land.

Authorities have also confirmed that methamphetamines in the form of tablets are flowing in from the so-called Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia.

According to the NPA, the amount of drugs seized each year was relatively low for 20 years after the enactment of the Stimulant Drugs Control Law in 1951.  However, the figure rose to more than 25 kg in 1971 due to an influx of stimulants produced in South Korea, it said.

See also: Amount of stimulant drugs seized, 1950-1999

The figure remained flat for a few years, but surged to over 100 kg per year in the late 1970s, when illegal drug production began in Taiwan and organized crime groups in Japan began to rely on the stimulants trade, the NPA said.

While seizures declined slightly in the early 1990s, in 1996, Kanagawa Prefectural Police seized 528 kg of stimulants in one raid, the largest drug bust in Japan to date.

Shocking figures show that more than 2 million people are abusing drugs, indicating that abuse mainly by young people has become a grave issue.

According to the National Police Agency, while the number of large-scale drug busts is on the rise, boosting total confiscation figures, street values have remained about the same.  This shows that supply routes in "the third drug abuse era," declared by the NPA, have not been eradicated.

A survey conducted last September by an extra-departmental body of the NPA says an estimated 2.18 million people are abusing drugs nationwide.

Of all those arrested in connection with stimulants, minors were the highest.

Although the NPA has taken efforts to crack down on violators, 137 junior high and high school students were taken into custody for illegal stimulant possession across the country last year.

Although methamphetamines smuggled into Japan were refined almost exclusively in China, more stimulants are coming from other areas such as the Golden Triangle, and trafficking routes are also varying, the sources said.

Police are desperate to eradicate systematic trafficking operations.

Japan Times,
June 17, 1999

See also:
See also: news index.
See also: Stimulant drugs in Japan.

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