How stigma created Japan’s hidden drug problem
In Japan, public shaming and stigma of those suspected of taking drugs has developed into a useful tool for the authorities to remind citizens of the country’s strict moral code on drug use: If you get high you are not just letting yourself down, you are also letting society down.
“While Japanese society has changed immeasurably, a strong social aversion against taking illegal drugs persists,” Brewster said. The use of drugs as an individual moral failing was extended to cannabis in the 1970s as the Japanese authorities clamped down on ‘corrupting’ counter culture messages coming from the West. In 1987, the Drug Abuse Prevention Centre (DAPC) was established to spread the anti-drugs message. Its Dame, Zettai (‘No, definitely not’) mirrored Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign. Official data shows 64 percent of the population uses prescription drugs such as analgesics, tranquillizers and sleeping medication, compared to 25 percent in England. In Japan’s psychiatric wards, sleeping pills and tranquillizers such as benzodiazepines are the second most problematic drugs after meth among patients dealing with addiction. Public drunkenness is common among 9-to-5ers.