History of Drug Misuse in Japan

Drug misuse in Japan has a relatively short history compared to other countries. The use of opium and other drugs was largely limited to foreigners in Japan until the late 19th century, when Japanese soldiers and traders began to use drugs while abroad. It was mainly used for recreational and medical purposes.

After World War II, Japan experienced a period of economic growth and modernization, which led to an increase in the use of drugs, particularly stimulants like amphetamines, which were widely used by factory workers and students. These drugs were also used to help people cope with the stress of Japan’s rapid economic growth. In the 1950s and 1960s, Japan’s government implemented strict drug laws, such as the Narcotics Control Law of 1951, and launched a campaign against drug use, which led to a decrease in the use of drugs.

However, in recent years there has been a resurgence in the use of drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances (NPS), and Japan’s government is once again taking steps to address the issue. NPS are synthetic drugs that have similar effects to traditional drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, but are not yet banned by Japan’s drug laws. There have also been concerns about the growing use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in Japan.

According to the National Police Agency of Japan, in 2018, the number of people arrested for drug offenses was around 18,000, which showed an increase of around 10% compared to the previous year. However, this number is still relatively low compared to other developed countries.

Overall, Japan has a low rate of drug use compared to many other countries, but the government is concerned about the trend of increasing drug misuse and is taking steps to address the issue.


  • “Drugs and Crime in Japan” by National Police Agency of Japan
  • “Drug Abuse in Japan” by The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
  • “Drug use in Japan: a growing concern” by The Japan Times
  • “Drugs in Japan: Current situation and trends” by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

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