Post-War Japan and the Problem of Narcotic Drugs


At this first meeting of the narcotic procurators from all over Japan, I am happy to have the chance to express my opinion concerning the problem under my jurisdiction.


Pages: 15 to 16
Creation Date: 1951/01/01

Post-War Japan and the Problem of Narcotic Drugs

At this first meeting of the narcotic procurators from all over Japan, I am happy to have the chance to express my opinion concerning the problem under my jurisdiction.

Importance of Narcotics

As analgesics and as cough medicines, narcotics are indispensable. The benefits obtainable from those drugs are the result of civilization, and laws and regulations concerning control of narcotics are to guarantee their safe and beneficial use.

However, because of the super-effective power of narcotics, the use is apt to become habitual, and the continual use of them results in unwholesome pleasure and indulgence which will result in misuse of the drugs and its prevalence, and finally the users become addicts who tempt others to the same habit. The resulting physical and mental disturbances will not only cause individual ruin but also disturb society and can destroy the whole nation. Because of such misuse, there is always illegal trading in narcotics regardless of control.

The effect of narcotics is guaranteed only by the proper use of them, and misuse and illegal trading cause hundreds of injuries and not a single benefit.

To look back upon the history of narcotic control in Japan, in all the friendly treaties with foreign Governments at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, clear statements were made as to the prohibition of opium in Japan. In the beginning of the Meiji Era, in a notification of the Government, stabbing, hanging, heavy labour, exile and other heavy penalties were established for misuse of and illegal trading in narcotics. New established laws in the succeeding years kept the principle of this notification.

Under the old Constitution, there were several narcotic control laws such as the Penal Law on Opium Smoking and the Opium Law. However, as violations expanded from mere smoking of opium to misuse of morphine and cocaine preparations, the laws and ordinances became insufficient. An adequate law was, for the first time, enacted after the termination of the war.

The international concern over narcotics was made clear in many pre-war treaties signed in Shanghai, The Hague and Geneva, and the Permanent Central Opium Board is still active in narcotic control in accordance with the Second Opium Treaty. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations has succeeded to the rights of the Committee of the League of Nations and is conducting similar activities. As you all know, the annual report of the Commission shows the narcotics control conditions in Japan after the end of the war and the Commission gives necessary advice to the Government through General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. From a humanistic and social viewpoint, control of misuse and illegal trading in narcotics can never be relaxed.

Present Status of Narcotic Control

As data have been lost, it is difficult to know the conditions of narcotic control before the end of the war. However, according to police statistics for ten years beginning in 1931, violations of the Penal Law on Opium Smoking were 77, violations of the Opium Law were 858 and violations of the Home Ministry's Ordinance on Narcotics Control were 675. The figures are highest around 1932 and 1933 and after that they rapidly decreased. From 1941 to the end of the war the figures must have decreased more rapidly. Something to be remarked upon here is that the rate of indictments, in these cases, is always 50-60 per cent of the total and usually twice as high as in other cases.

After the end of the war, until the Welfare Ministry's Ordinance on Narcotics Control appeared in June 1946, there were almost no cases of narcotics violation. But in August of the same year, 25 persons were arrested, and since then the statistics of the Prosecutors' Bureau as reported from the Prosecutors' Boards, in 1946 were 194, in 1947, 248, and in 1948 were 295, thus showing a tendency to increase. In 1949 the total number of cases reached 947 (about 1,400 people involved). In addition it can be estimated that many cases went unreported. When these figures are compared to the Welfare Ministry's statistics on people involved in narcotics control violations, the rates of increase of both seem to be identical.

As for the disposition of the cases after the war, the standards of prosecution and penalization are different according to localities. At first, most of the cases were simply fined or probated for the reason that the amounts of drugs handled were so little that they were counted by grammes, or the defendants had no signs of being addicts, or their social positions were so high that it was embarrassing to punish them severely. But later, such attitudes were reformed, and recently the handling of cases has become much more adequate than before.

Case-finding Organization

For case-finding, besides the police officials and police employees, there are narcotics control officers who are special detectives. To discover narcotic cases requires special knowledge. Since 1947 the staff of the narcotics officers has been organized for reinforcing the control.

The narcotics control officer is appointed by the Welfare Minister from among the prefectural narcotics officials and works under the direct control of the Minister for handling of crimes concerning narcotics and marihuana. There are about 200 of them at work and the areas of their jurisdiction are all over the country. Arrests, in the majority of narcotics cases after the end of the war, have been by them. In order to make the control more complete, a draft of a law is now being prepared for presentation to the Diet which will make the narcotics officers national public officials belonging directly to the Ministry.

It is requested that all of you co-operate with the narcotics control officers, understanding that they have special knowledge and technique concerning narcotics, and that you give positive aid to increase their efficiency, by aiding their investigation procedure, and by giving them information on laws and regulations.

Disposition of Narcotics Cases

From recollections of your work in the past four years in dealing with narcotics cases, I would like to draw your attention to the standardization of prosecution and penalization.

According to the "status of disposition of narcotic cases" distributed to you, you will see that the penalties demanded and levied have been different according to localities, and cases cited do not seem to give you any unified principle since the facts in each case must be considered.

As for the standard of disposition of cases, we instructed you in the principle of strict punishment, in the "notification from the Chief of the Criminal Affairs Bureau", in January 1948. Also, at the end of last year, the Prosecutors' Bureau prepared a draft of standards of prosecution as a reference for your consideration.

At this meeting today, we will discuss this matter thoroughly so that we can expect to have a fair standard of penalty which will maintain the dignity of trials and prosecutions.

At the liaison prosecutors' area conference in February and March of last year, we requested you to report to the central office all the criminal cases of misuse and illegal trading in narcotics in which penal servitude was not demanded, but when the standard prosecution is established, we hope to abandon the reporting system and leave the handling of cases to the responsibility of each District Procurator's Office.

The second point I would like to call your attention to is thorough searching. To attack the very source of crime is always the key in every case, and in narcotic cases, to trace to the source is essential for prevention of further development of crime. In most of the cases reported in the past, the sources were often left undiscovered. We request you to instruct your personnel to search thoroughly for the source in all individual cases.

As for collection of evidence, it was often neglected to pick up empty ampoules and their fragments and syringes with remnants of narcotics and consequently much evidence was lost. Also, as the necessary analysis of the drugs was often neglected, many cases were released without penalty. Sometimes the addicts were left to be examined by doctors who had no specialized knowledge of narcotics, and the detention for examination was neglected. There were many cases in which prosecution could not be sustained. In your instructions to the detective personnel, this too should be emphasized.

The third point is how to sustain prosecution. In handling of narcotics cases, public prosecutors are, of course, expected to know all about the laws and regulations. Their interpretation and application of these should be correct. But we cannot expect all judges to fully realize the evils of narcotics and the importance of the control.

Prosecutors, when in court, should give the correct reasons for prosecution and penalization in each case they handle, and they should make the purpose of this control clear in their opening speech, by proving the fact that illegal possessors of narcotics are either addicts or illegal traders: they should bring the case to a successful conclusion (obtaining penalty demanded) by holding to this line of thought throughout the trial.

The last point I wish to mention is that prompt trial is necessary to accomplish the purpose of prosecution of any narcotic case, but this is especially true of narcotic addicts. Proof of addiction is difficult without detention. It requires great effort to soothe and pacify addicts for even one day, and they are also a bad influence on other inmates. Therefore the trial must be completed quickly in order to establish the fact of addiction clearly and to avoid trouble to others.