Seems like lately, when Fukuoka is in the news, it involves drugs. Barely a month has passed since the arrest of Fukuoka celebrity Noriko Sakai, on allegations of drug use, when news of the discovery of a marijuana plantation in Koga, hits the news. Koga City is part of Fukuoka Prefecture and less than a half hour train ride from Hakata Station. The Mainichi Daily News reporsts that 31 marijuana plants were found in the forest in Mushirouchi in Koga and another 21 were found in the home of one of the accused. Brothers Yoshihiro and Mitoshi Nakamura, and Yasuhiko Nakamachi have been arrested in relation to the plantation believed to have been worth 180 Million yen ($2 Million). Their defense was that they were growing them for personal use. The police however believe they are growing it for commercial purposes. I personally think that no one invests $2 million for anything that is for personal consumption.
I am not familiar with the penal code of Japan, but I infer from the report that growing marijuana for personal purposes is allowed. (Anyone care to enlighten me on this one?). This new caught me by surprise because just earlier today I was talking to a friend about Japan’s low tolerance on drugs. The next thing I know is that there is a marijuana plantation barely 1 hour from Kyushu’s most populous city. This kind of news is common almost everywhere else in the world (I read about drug related news almost everyday where I am from) but Japan was probably the last country I’d suspect to have a drug plantation.
Does Japan have a growing drug problem? The Guardian, a UK broadsheet tackled the issue of increasing drug use in Japan and noted that in 2007 there had been an increase of 50% in Cannabis cultivation in Japan and a 12% increase in drug related arrests. In 2005 the Japan Time Online published an informal survey on people’s perception on Japan’s drug problems. Almost all of them said there was no drug problem in Japan. Now, 4 years later, would they have answered the same? What do you guys think?