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What happens if you have drugs in Japan?

What Happens if You Have Drugs in Japan?


Japan is known for its strict drug laws, and foreigners may not be aware of the serious consequences of possessing drugs in the country. Even small amounts of certain substances could result in lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, or deportation. It’s important to know the laws and regulations surrounding drugs in Japan to avoid severe legal repercussions.

Drug Laws in Japan

Japan’s drug laws are among the strictest in the world, with severe penalties for possession, use, and distribution of illegal drugs. The country’s Narcotics Control Act classifies drugs into five categories, with each category carrying different penalties. For instance, marijuana possession could result in a five-year prison sentence, while trafficking could lead to life imprisonment.

Japanese Snack Box

Punishments for Possession

If caught possessing drugs in Japan, you could face up to ten years in prison or a fine of up to ¥3 million (approximately US$28,000). The severity of the punishment depends on the type and quantity of drugs found in your possession. Despite this harsh penalty, drug use remains a significant problem in Japan, particularly among young people.

Punishments for Trafficking

Drug trafficking in Japan is a severe crime that could lead to life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty. Those caught transporting drugs across borders or manufacturing and distributing illegal substances face harsh punishment. Even if you had no intention of selling the drugs, possessing a large amount could be enough to be classified as a drug trafficker.

Foreigners and Drug Laws

Foreigners are not exempt from Japanese drug laws and must adhere to the same strict regulations as locals. If caught with drugs, foreigners could face deportation after serving their sentence. In some cases, they may also be permanently banned from entering Japan.

Drug Testing

Japan has strict drug testing policies for foreign workers, athletes, and students. If you are planning to work or study in Japan, you may be required to undergo drug testing before your arrival or during your stay. Some companies may also have a zero-tolerance policy for drug use, and failing a drug test could result in termination of employment or expulsion from school.

Medical Marijuana

Unlike some Western countries, Japan does not recognize medical marijuana as a legal treatment option. Even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana from another country, possessing it in Japan is illegal and could lead to severe penalties.

Police Searches

Japanese police have extensive powers to search individuals suspected of drug possession. They can perform body searches, vehicle searches, and home searches without a warrant if they have reasonable suspicion that you are carrying drugs. Refusing to cooperate with police officers during a search could exacerbate the situation and lead to more severe penalties.

Reporting Drug Crimes

Japan has a low tolerance for drug use, and citizens are encouraged to report any drug crimes to the police. The police department has a dedicated narcotics division that investigates drug-related crimes and works closely with other law enforcement agencies.

Getting Legal Help

If you are caught with drugs in Japan, it’s crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney immediately. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and represent you in court. It’s important to note that Japanese courts operate differently from Western courts, and having a Japanese-speaking lawyer could be an advantage.


Japan’s strict drug laws serve as a deterrent to drug use and trafficking in the country. However, foreigners should be aware of these laws and regulations before entering the country. Being caught with drugs in Japan could result in severe legal repercussions, including imprisonment, deportation, and even the death penalty. It’s essential to understand the laws and regulations surrounding drugs in Japan to avoid getting into trouble with the law.

What is the punishment for drug possession in Japan?

The use, possession, transfer, or receipt of stimulant drugs is against the law and can result in imprisonment with work for up to 20 years and a fine of up to JPY 5 million.

How long is jail time for drugs in Japan?

In Japan, there are strict penalties for possessing or using certain drugs, with methamphetamine and heroin carrying a potential 10-year prison sentence, while MDMA, cocaine or magic mushrooms can result in seven years’ imprisonment. Possession of solvents such as paint thinner can also lead to a penalty of up to one year imprisonment and/or a USD $4,000 fine.

What drugs are banned in Japan?

The possession of opium, cannabis, and stimulant drugs like amphetamines and methamphetamines, as well as medications like Adderall and Dexedrine used for treating ADD/ADHD, is strictly forbidden and against the law when entering Japan. This has been in effect since March 12, 2020.

What is the biggest crime in Japan?

Theft is the most common crime in Japan, while assaults and bodily injuries are the most reported violent offenses, followed by rapes and homicides. In 2022, Japan recorded around 21.9 assaults and 0.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

Is it legal to VAPE in Japan?

Since 2010, the sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine has been prohibited in Japan under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act. However, e-cigarettes without nicotine are not subject to legal regulation.

Do you go to jail if you’re fat in Japan?

The aim of the campaign is to promote healthy living and prevent diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. However, it should be noted that in Japan, being overweight is not a criminal offense, as many viral posts suggest. Japanese people cannot be penalized or incarcerated for weighing more than average.

Drug Education and Prevention

To combat drug use and trafficking in Japan, the government has implemented various drug education and prevention programs. These programs aim to raise awareness about the dangers of drug use and provide support for those struggling with addiction. Schools and universities are required to include drug education in their curriculum, and companies may also offer drug awareness training to their employees.

Alternative Sentencing Options

In some cases, offenders caught with drugs in Japan may be eligible for alternative sentencing options. These options could include rehabilitation programs, community service, or probation. However, eligibility for alternative sentencing depends on the type and quantity of drugs found in possession, as well as the offender’s criminal history.

International Cooperation

Japan cooperates with other countries in the fight against drug trafficking. The country is a member of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which provides support for drug control efforts globally. Japan also participates in international drug control conventions and exchanges information with other countries on drug trafficking trends.

The Importance of Avoiding Drugs in Japan

Given the strict laws and harsh punishments surrounding drugs in Japan, it’s essential to avoid using or possessing illegal substances while in the country. Even if you don’t use drugs yourself, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and avoid being associated with those who do. By staying informed and following the laws, foreigners can enjoy their time in Japan without getting into trouble with the law.

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