The number of crimes recorded in Japan dropped to the lowest level in the postwar era for the sixth straight year in 2020, with a sharp decline in street crime as people stayed home to shelter from the pandemic, police data shows. At the same time, the consultations on domestic violence and cybercrime reached record highs.

Also last year, 114 people died in accidents on Japan’s expressways, with the number falling by 49 from the previous year to its lowest since records began in 1979. A total of 2,839 people were killed in traffic accidents nationwide, with those aged 65 or over accounting for more than half of fatalities.

Older drivers continue to be behind a disproportionate number of accidents too, leading to national campaigns to get them to give up their licenses. With many such drivers reluctant to make the break, Osaka Prefectural Police have piloted a program allowing older drivers to experience what life without a car would be like before they actually surrender their licenses.

New York agrees to legalize recreational marijuana | NBC NEWS
New York agrees to legalize recreational marijuana | NBC NEWS

At the other end of the age spectrum, out of a record 5,034 people involved in cannabis-related crimes in Japan in 2020, teens and those in their 20s made up the majority of offenders, police say. The figure rose by 713 from 2019, up for the seventh consecutive year and exceeding 5,000 for the first time.

Following the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in New York and New Jersey, Japan’s Foreign Ministry has urged its citizens visiting or living in those states to continue to stay away from the drug, reports Tomohiro Osaki.

In fact, while much of the rest of the world is moving in the direction of relaxing laws on cannabis, Japan is looking to tighten them. Not much stands in the way of that happening — except Michiko Kameishi, that is, a celebrity lawyer who has become a vocal advocate for greater transparency surrounding marijuana’s status in Japan, as Philip Brasor explains in Media Mix.