Future of Drug Policy: Real Solutions Grounded in Global Evidence

Commentaries and Op-eds November 1, 2015, Drug Policy Futures

Japan is a country well-known for its well-organized society, economic successes, advanced technology, exquisite food, and sophisticated art. Yet, one of its remarkable successes seems to be largely unknown to both present-day Japanese and the outside world: the fact that Japan is one of the few countries that has been able to cope with, and eradicate, a drug epidemic. In Japan, a serious methamphetamine epidemic emerged in the wake of the country’s defeat in World War II. Society was in chaos, the economy in ruins and the industrial and social infrastructure in shambles. The bottomless disaster that the Japanese faced became the breeding ground for a wave of drug abuse that evolved into an epidemic. In a sense, this epidemic was quite unexpected. While opium and other narcotic drugs were certainly not unknown to the Japanese, their country had so far been spared widespread abuse.