Japan should crack down on international crime syndicates if it wants to curb the recent wave of methamphetamine consumption spreading through the country, a top United Nations drug control official said Thursday in Tokyo.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, U.N. Undersecretary General Pino Arlacchi said reducing the supply of drugs can be more effective in the short term than educational efforts to solve drug abuse. “The most important step right now (for Japan) is to have better legislation on organized crime … Japan is vulnerable because of its inadequate judicial structure to fight (organized crime),” said Arlacchi, who heads the U.N. International Drug Control Program. Arlacchi was in Tokyo to attend the Asia Drug Law Enforcement Conference, which ended Wednesday.
In the two-day antinarcotics conference, Japan and six other Asian countries, including China, Thailand and Myanmar, agreed to tighten border controls across the region. Arlacchi said some 90 percent of the opium available around the world is being produced in Myanmar and Afghanistan. About 30 million people worldwide use so-called amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), which include methamphetamines. Japanese users account for 1 million of them, if casual users are included, he said.
Japanese police sources say that while China remains the main source of methamphetamines smuggled into Japan, an increasing volume of methamphetamines in tablet form is coming in from East Asian nations, following in the footsteps of well-established heroin smuggling routes.
Arlacchi said that while the use of natural drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, are stagnating worldwide, with current users estimated at 14 million and 8 million, respectively, use of synthetic drugs like ATS is rising.