Japan's draconian marijuana laws against ongoing trends
Japan Today -- Jan 07
On Oct 25, former actress Maya Takagi was arrested on a charge of possession of marijuana. The self-described "naturalist" took up residence on Ishigaki island five years ago. Also arrested was Takagi's male companion, Shigenari Moriyama, who had been actively promoting the use of the weed, praising its effectiveness for anti-aging.

Last July, Takagi went so far as to declare her candidacy as a member of the Japan Renaissance Party, running for a seat in the upper house of the Diet. Her platform included legalization of marijuana for medical use. She was defeated, but voiced her satisfaction that the election helped him "get the word out to lots of people."

Spa! reports that Takagi and Moriyama have yet to admit to the charges, despite the police confiscating such evidence as enough cannabis sativa to light up 100 times, along with pipes and other used smoking paraphernalia.

"I only met with Ms Takagi once, but concerning the matter of legalization of marijuana for medical use, I had communicated through Mr Hiroyuki Arai, a former member of the Japan Renaissance Party," said Koichi Maeda, director of an NPO that backs legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. "I sympathized with her. But I can't get over the feeling that she hadn't sufficiently studied the issues. During questioning in the Diet, a member of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare testified that Japan's controls on marijuana have been concluded through an 'international agreement.' But actually all the nations in the Group of Eight, except Japan, allow for medical use of marijuana. From the beginning, medical use and research of cannabis had not been banned. Annual reports from the International Narcotics Control Board, the World Health Organization and so on had welcomed such research.

"I would have hoped that these points would have been raised during discussions in the Diet, but they weren't."

Maeda is nonetheless sympathetic toward Takagi, and voiced his opinion that along with favorable effects, it is "far less addictive or harmful than are alcohol or tobacco."

"That's why many advanced economies such as the Netherlands and some U.S. states such as Washington and Colorado permit not only medical use, but have decriminalized possession, and other countries, such as Britain and Germany do not penalize possession of small amounts for personal use. In some countries, there are heavier fines for smoking on a public street," he says. "Only Japan is going against the world currents on this. Mobilizing 30 police to arrest a violator, and then pillorying the accused in a media frenzy is unthinkable in Europe or North America."

Spa! then enumerates marijuana's medically proven benefits, such as inducing relaxation, reducing inflammation, suppressing pain or muscle spasms, and helping patients in the terminal stages of diseases such as cancer or AIDS. Which is all the more reason for Japan to reconsider its current law banning the drug.

News source: Japan Today
Jan 21
The Environment Ministry said Friday that it has punished a 71-year-old part-time worker at Shinjuku Gyoen National Park in central Tokyo for neglecting to collect entry fees from some non-Japanese speakers. (Jiji)
Jan 21
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent Donald Trump a message celebrating his inauguration as new president of the United States in Washington on Friday. (Jiji)
Jan 21
The manufacturer of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet plans to postpone its first delivery until mid-2020. (NHK)
Jan 21
The administration of new US President Donald Trump has announced through the White House website its intention to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. (NHK)
Jan 21
Workers at a maker of fermented kanzuri seasoning scatter red peppers on snow-covered rice paddies in Myoko, Niigata Prefecture, on Friday. (the-japan-news.com)
Jan 20
Over 9.4 million foreign tourists visited Osaka last year, the largest number ever, Osaka tourism authorities announced earlier this week. (Japan Times)
Jan 20
The position of the Japan-U.S. alliance as the linchpin of Japanese foreign policy and security is an "unchanging principle," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a policy speech Friday hours before the inauguration of the next U.S. president. (Kyodo)
Jan 20
The number of people who committed suicide in Japan in 2016 fell 9.4 pct from the previous year, its fastest decline on record, the health ministry said in a preliminary report Friday. (Jiji)
Jan 20
The organizing committee of the 2017 Asian Winter Games to be held in Hokkaido, northern Japan, next month has asked a Japanese hotel chain to take appropriate measures amid criticism for its owner's denial of the 1937 Nanjing incident. (Jiji)
Jan 20
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered all of the country's ministries and agencies to check whether their officials helped colleagues secure post-retirement jobs. (NHK)