Health ministry eyes crackdown on 'legal herbs' used as drugs
Mainichi -- Apr 24
At least 77 people have been delivered to hospitals in Tokyo this year after smoking "legal herbs" that have the same hallucinatory and stimulatory effects as illegal drugs, figures gathered by the Mainichi have shown.
The dried herbs are mixed with synthesized drugs and sold legally as incense or air fresheners, but they can excite the central nervous system and produce hallucinations if smoked -- and in some cases cause serious health damage.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has made lists of chemical constituents that affect the central nervous system, and restricts their importation, production and sale. However, new varieties are constantly appearing and controls to keep up with these varieties are falling behind -- prompting authorities to consider a blanket ban.
Japan's farm ministry said Thursday that the highly pathogenic avian influenza found at a poultry farm in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto has been confirmed to be the H5N8 subtype, the same virus strain as the bird flu found in South Korea. (Jiji Press )
Train operators in Tokyo and surrounding areas will be shutting down coin-operated luggage lockers at main stations before and during US President Barack Obama's visit next week, as a security measure. (NHK )
Just over one ton of water contaminated with radioactive particulates leaked from one of the containment vessels at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said. (Japan Today )
Japan is expected to secure the minimum required power supply capacity when electricity demand peaks in August, even if all the country's nuclear reactors remain offline, estimates by major regional utilities showed Thursday. (Kyodo )
Tochigi prefectural police said Thursday that they are questioning a man in his 30s over the murder of a 7-year-old girl in December 2005. Japanese media quoted police as saying that the man, who was arrested for dealing in fake brand-name goods, has hinted at his involvement in the murder. (Japan Today )
People enjoy viewing the 15-meter snow walls of the Yuki no Otani (Great Snow Valley), along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route that passes through the Northern Japan Alps to link Toyama and Nagano prefectures. (The Japan News )
Tokyo prosecutors plan to look into whether a man, who has been arrested for allegedly vandalizing copies of Anne Frank's diary, is mentally competent to be held criminally responsible for his actions, informed sources said Wednesday. (Jiji Press )