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Since being arrested for possession of stimulant drugs on June 2, it is assumed that 30-year-old actor Ryo Hashizume’s career is over. As Mark Schilling wrote in the June 15 Japan Times, Hashizume’s latest film, in which he played a supporting role, was pulled from theaters. It reopened June 17, but with Hashizume’s scenes deleted. For all intents and purposes, he had become a nonperson in show business.

And I mean that literally. Owing to the way drug busts are covered in the media, anyone even accused of using illegal substances is presented as not just a criminal, but something subhuman. This idea was established in the 1980s with an anti-drug public service announcement that used the slogan, “Ningen yamemasu ka?,” meaning, “Will you stop being a person?” By taking drugs, that is.

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