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A total of 8,986 people allegedly violated the Stimulants Control Law in the first half of this year, down 632 from the same period last year, according to a recent police survey.

However, authorities believe drug abuse is on the increase, with people escaping detection due to more sophisticated drug-smuggling and possession techniques.

According to the National Police Agency survey, the amount of amphetamines seized by police in the January-June period fell by 236 kg to 335.7 kg, while the number of people arrested on suspicion of drug use dropped 531 to 9,766. Of these, 92 percent allegedly used stimulants.

NPA officials said increasingly sophisticated drug-smuggling and concealment techniques have contributed to the drop in the amount of drugs seized and that amphetamines are widely circulating in Japan as the street value of the drug has declined.

In some cases, stimulants were concealed in shampoo bottles and packages of instant noodles, the officials said.

Meanwhile, 636 people were arrested for possession of cannabis in the first half of the year, up 76, while a record 672 kg of marijuana was seized, exceeding the previous record high of 606.9 kg in all of 1993.

The study also shows that 427 foreigners in Japan were suspected of drug use in the first half of the year, up by 90 from the same period last year. Iranians accounted for the largest group of foreign suspects, at 92, followed by 81 Filipinos and 67 Brazilians.

In a separate survey, the NPA found that more than half of the people arrested for stimulant use also had experience getting high on paint thinner.

Of the 964 who were arrested across Japan between Feb. 8 and March 4 of this year, 51.3 percent said they had inhaled thinner. Of the 770 male and 194 female respondents, 69.1 percent were in their 20s and 30s, while 6.6 percent were teenagers.

There is high incidence of people who sniff paint thinner in adolescence going on to use amphetamines, NPA officials said, emphasizing the importance of taking measures to combat thinner abuse.

Of the 964 arrested, 28.2 percent said they had taken sleeping pills, 28.2 percent said they had taken tranquilizers and 17.5 percent had used cannabis.

Fifty-six percent of the respondents had been arrested for abuse of stimulants more than once. They spent an average of 60,000 yen per month on the drugs and used them an average of 12 times per month, the survey said.

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