Drug Trends – Japan

Japan is not a country that is generally associated with drug abuse and drug problems. The lifetime usage rate of illegal drugs in Japan is very low when put up against other major countries. For example, cannabis usage in Japan is 1.2% while in the USA it is 30.2%.

Another example of the low drug usage rate in Japan is when referring to the use of stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine. In Japan, drug use is at 0.4% while it is substantially higher in the USA and the UK at 11.9% and 3.7% respectively.

Illegal cannabis use is on the rise in Japan however. Between 2015 and 2017, the cannabis use rate rose from 1 percent to 1.4 percent meaning that approximately 1.33 million people use the drug. In most of all cannabis cases in Japan, roughly 80% involved the possession of drugs.

A noteworthy percentage of 21.3% were members of criminal organisations. The number of people in their twenties caught for cannabis offenses in 2018 rose year on year by 347 to 1,521.

Japan is unique in the world of drugs abuse as it is the only country where methamphetamine is more popular than cannabis. Stimulants, especially methamphetamine make up approximately 80% of all drug use within the country.

In a country full of workaholics, it is inevitable that a drug like methamphetamine is going to be popular as it allows people to work harder and longer whereas drugs like cannabis will result in a loss of concentration and loss of function.


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