Japan has one of the lowest numbers of drug users in the world, but according to officials, drug use in Japan has hit a new peak. Marijuana, amphetamines, and ecstasy have become increasingly popular and are easy to obtain.
Drugs in Japan are considered to be extremely taboo, but these cultural taboos are breaking down fast amongst the young people in Japan. A 16 year old girl who wished to remain anonymous said that “everyone does it”, whenever she and her friends go out, they like to get high.
Naoto Takeuchi of Japan’s National Police Agency says that “In the past three years one third of smuggled drugs come from China and another third are from North Korea. But recently there has been an alarming increase of drugs coming from North Korea”. This is proving to be amjjor concern for officials and the general population.
2.76 Million Japanese Used Illegal Drugs
In 2010, the government of Japan estimated that there were at least 2.76 million Japanese who had used illegal drugs. Although this is only about 2.9 percent of the population, for a country that had relatively no drug problem only 15 years ago, this is a huge increase. Most of Japan’s drug users are men and women who are in their twenties and many have claimed to first try drugs while backpacking in countries like India.
Starts in Junior High.
As of now, amphetamines are the most abused drugs in Japan; most of which come from Korea. Cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, and heroin are also available and are increasing in popularity. Officials claim that many junior high school students inhale glue, paint thinner, and solvents; unfortunately many of these students turn to amphetamines for a stronger high.
An investigation released in 2010 showed that of 180 people that purchased drugs over the internet, 70% had no prior arrests or criminal convictions, 80% were male and 46 people were out of a job. Of all the buyers 82% bought stimulants and 14% bought marijuana. Keep in mind that this number was only people who were involved in the investigation.
Amphetamine Statistics in Japan
According to police officials, 2.6 million Japanese had used between 15 and 18 tons of amphetamines in the late 1990′s. This is more than the use of all other illegal drugs combined. Officials state that amphetamines are their biggest challenge. The drugs are popular amongst truck drivers, gang members, partiers, housewives, salary men, people wanting to lose weight, and the rich of Japan. Amphetamines are 10 times the cost in Japan than the United States, but still remain the most favorable drug of choice.
Marijuana Statistics in Japan
A 2005 survey stated that 1.3% of Japanese over the age of 15 had used marijuana; this is 2.6% increase from 1995; at that time only 0.5% said they used the drug. However, according to top officials, this number is very low and that marijuana use is widespread throughout the country.
Ecstasy Statistics in Japan
Ecstasy is growing in popularity, especially amongst young people. The use goes along with the growing trend in outdoor raves and dance clubs. The number of people arrested for ecstasy has quadrupled since 2004. In 2006, 331,000 tablets were seized; this number has risen each year since.
Ketamine Statistics in Japan
Ketamine became an illegal narcotic in 2007. While not as popular as ecstasy, it is still widely used.
Hallucinogens Statistics in Japan
There is a fine line between legal and illegal possession of mushrooms. If one claims to take them to hallucinate, it is illegal, if one says they were simply hungry, it is legal. Many of the species grow wild in Japan, and even locals pick the mushroom and use it as a part of their diet. Currently, opposition groups are trying to get mushrooms completely banned and the government is releasing movies and other propaganda to defer people from using mushrooms.
A new synthetic hallucinogen known as Yaotou or ‘shaking head’ is becoming more popular. The drug is said to be trafficked in from Chinese gangsters. While little is known about the drug, it is said to be harmful and have dangerous effects.
Cocaine Statistics in Japan
There is a growing trend of cocaine users, especially amongst Japan’s upper middle class and elite. Cocaine users in Japan tend to work for security firms and gather at up-scale nightclubs. It is said that some mix cocaine and heroin together, putting them at risk for serious, even fatal, consequences.
Education and Help
Drug use in Japan is relatively new. The government is working hard to stop the growing trend before it gets out of control. The most important thing is for the youth of Japan to be well educated about drugs and the harmful consequences that they can cause. For people who do abuse or have addictions to drugs, help is available.