The health ministry on Thursday classified recreational nitrous oxide, known as "laughing gas," as a designated drug, banning its production, importation, sale, possession and use, effective Feb 28.
The ban will not apply to nitrous oxide used for medical and other legitimate purposes.
Nitrous oxide is used as an anesthetic agent but it has been sold online in canisters, often labeled as Sivagus, ostensibly for refilling bicycle tires, while actually being used as a recreational drug.
When inhaled, nitrous oxide causes a state of euphoria and relaxation, hence its nickname "laughing gas."
A probe using an X-ray-like detector has found that a large amount of melted nuclear fuel apparently remains at the bottom of one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (NHK)
The smoking rate for Japanese men stood at 29.7 percent as of May this year, slipping below 30 percent for the first time since the survey began in 1965, Japan Tobacco Inc. said Thursday. (Japan Times)
Oriental Land on Thursday reported a net profit of 16.2 billion yen ($155 million) for the April-June quarter, a 5% increase from a year earlier, as visitors flocked to its Tokyo Disney theme parks even as ticket prices kept climbing. (Nikkei)
The Bangladeshi government has postponed the closing bid for a large-scale project funded by Japan's official development assistance in the wake of the terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka earlier this month that left 20 hostages, including seven Japanese, dead, sources said Thursday. (Japan Times)