Nov 13, 2015
Has there been a paucity of news in Japan this week?! Trawling through the papers turned up headlines shouting about some dude dressing as a woman so as to enter a female onsen. Then there was the one about a Kobe man hiding in drains and taking up-skirt photos. And what about those tourist buses clogging up the roads in Ginza? It’s fair to say that, from a Japanese media perspective at least, things have been a little spartan.
Perhaps this is why there’s been wide coverage of some kid telling his teacher he smoked marijuana in the past. Yes, that’s pretty much the story! We can flesh it out a bit more; a 12-year-old sixth-grader was rumoured to be smoking cigarettes, his teacher had a word, during which time the lad made his earth shattering confession. Police were called in, an older brother soiled himself (surprise, surprise), and a school principal left us with the words, ‘This incident left me speechless.’. Well, not quite then.
Would it be fair to say that this incident also left many foreigners living in Japan speechless? At least, those who follow the ‘news’. I think so. The question is, to what ‘incident’ are we referring?
In the case of the school Principal, it’s one of his students smoking marijuana. In the case of many a foreigner, it’s that this is even news at all, to say nothing of the furor surrounding it.
Of course, such a young person shouldn’t be getting involved with recreational drugs. However, there’s clearly a gulf in values/culture here. Whilst nations in the West push towards legalisation, many countries in the East continue to enforce Draconian drug laws. OK, I get that, and let’s be honest, neither region seems to get drug policy right. But surely what we can agree on, is that what the boy in question needs is a clip round the ear from his parents, and the confiscation of his toys, rather than national press attention, sobbing educational authorities, and televised discussion with a bunch of celebs getting all holier-than-thou.
Whilst the Japanese approach to drugs doesn’t reach the terrifying proportions of many of its eastern neighbours, it does burden users/offenders with a lifetime of social guilt. But it’s OK. This boy will learn soon enough that he can handle the burden by chain smoking cheap cigarettes, and throwing up his post-work beers on the trains, and nobody will bat an eyelid. Or maybe I’ve missed the point, and this was all just an opportunity to sell some news rags. Much like this post, I suppose.
Did you read the same news story? How does Japan’s drug policy compare with your home nation’s? All opinions welcome. Join the conversation below.
Image: Dāvis Mosāns - public domain / Flickr
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