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Correct me if I am wrong, but it is possession of narcotic drugs, stimulants and proscribed substances that is illegal in Japan, not the use of them. Reading the news carefully, we learn that the sumo wrestlers who recently fell afoul of Japanese drug laws, plus singer Noriko Sakai and her surfer husband and others currently in the news, were sought, questioned, arrested and prosecuted for drug possession, not for drug use.

So it makes no sense to me when the police are reported “trying to crack down on deep-rooted drug use in the entertainment industry” (as in the Aug. 9 article “Arrest, drugs shatter Sakai’s ‘pure’ image”) when they have no legal grounds for cracking down on drug use, only on their possession. Until the government enacts new laws with a different vocabulary, use of narcotics, stimulants, etc. is not illegal. If I am wrong, then why is so much attention paid to the matter of drug possession, and so little to the matter of drug use?

I believe that words are important and that the distinction I am drawing is lost on most people who are more cavalier with their language. Many might say that it is reasonable to deduce drug use from possession and vice versa, and that the two naturally go hand in hand. But I have only slight trust in what Japanese consider “natural,” plus I can easily imagine situations where drug residue might appear in my urine without my actually possessing or even using drugs.

Subtleties like these, however, will not help us if we have trouble with the police. And so, I do not look askance at Sakai’s or anyone else’s moral character because of these legal problems. The melodramatic wailing and breast-beating in the media about what celebrities “possess” is just as much make-believe as their “tarento” (talented) personas to begin with. Aren’t they?

grant piper