In a nation governed by one of the world's most draconian anti-cannabis laws, it's rare enough to stumble upon marijuana plants thriving on the side of a road.

Imagine the surprise, then, when a crop of marijuana was found earlier this week in what is perhaps one of the unlikeliest places of all: Nagatacho, home to Japan's political elites. In a highly rare case, Tokyo Metropolitan Government staff on Thursday confirmed — and then removed — four marijuana plants sprouting on the premises of an office building for Upper House lawmakers, according to Masahiro Hirai, an official with the health and welfare bureau of the metropolitan government.

A few hours before the removal, the bureau had received a call from an AERA dot journalist — who later broke the story — notifying it of the existence of what appeared to be marijuana plants near the building, Hirai said. The bureau swiftly dispatched two of its staff members to dispose of them.