Methamphetamine use in Japan after the Second World War: transformation of narratives.
Pervitin was the name given to methamphetamine in Germany. Other researchers, Taro Horimi of Osaka University and Noboru Ariyama of Niigata Medical College, also referred to the useful features of methamphetamine and amphetamine, (2) as described in medical and pharmaceutical journals in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where amphetamine was already commercialized by the 1930s. The reason why methamphetamine was re-evaluated and reintroduced in Japan was because of these Western precedents.
Methamphetamine and amphetamine were then made available for commercial use in Japan; they were initially used in hospitals and by students for night-time study. However, as the phrase "it is suitable at this time" in the Miura quotation cited above suggests, methamphetamine was soon used in military and related organizations after the start of the Pacific War in December 1941. Following Japan's defeat, methamphetamine (and amphetamine as well) began to be used throughout Japan, especially in the urban areas, the users including novelists, dancers, and night-club comedians as well as ordinary office workers. However, it was soon demonized as a drug that was thought to produce addiction and psychosis. Why did such an abrupt change happen in Japan? And how?
Some typical answers to these questions have been provided by medical doctors and criminologists (Tatetsu, Goto, & Fujiwara, 1956; Tamura, 1982; Suwaki, Fukui, & Komura, 1997). They argue that Japan had a recognizable methamphetamine problem immediately after the Second World War, when postwar disorder induced many people to use methamphetamine as a way of relieving mental stress and depression. This produced high numbers of methamphetamine psychosis, and subsequently the Stimulant Control Law of 1951 was established in response. The problem with this argument, however, is that many people continued to use methamphetamine regularly without developing psychosis, and, besides, there was no mention of the psychosis-producing effect of methamphetamine in the National Diet debate on the Stimulant Control Law.
This article seeks to explain methamphetamine use in postwar Japan by describing the steps that led to the passage of the Stimulant Control Law and by analyzing contemporary narratives on methamphetamine and its use, especially in reference to two elements of the story that have not been previously discussed: transformations in the discourse of methamphetamine use, especially by users themselves, and nationalist dialogue concerning the secret production and smuggling of methamphetamine. Both are particularly relevant to post-war Japan, especially in the 1950s.
Narrative analysis requires a distinct perspective. The narratives analyzed here will not be used as evidence of contemporary facts. Rather, they will be treated as factual accounts that construct versions of variant realities. In other words, each narrative has the potential to realize what it implies, and those potentialities suggest the many possibilities of narratives with regard to the same thing. The questions above might be rephrased as follows: Why and how did some narratives come to dominate others, and what caused the abrupt change in the formation of narratives on methamphetamine in Japan in the 1950s?
Methamphetamine use and condemnation
Methamphetamine, once made available for commercial use in the 1940s by many pharmaceutical companies, was more popular than amphetamine. This is illustrated in Figure 1, below.
One of the most famous and popular medicines was Philopon, which was extracted by Dr. Miura and the Dainippon Pharmaceutical Company and made available in 1941. Philopon is a coined word, combining the Greek philo (love) and ponos (labor), and was a synonym for stimulants until the 1970s. (3) The Imperial Japanese Armed Forces used methamphetamine during the Second World War. For example, soldiers on sentry duty were supplied with tablets called Cat-Eye Tablet (Nekome-Jo). Most famously, it was used by the Special Forces, such as the kamikaze. The tablets for the Special Forces were blended with green tea powder, stamped with the emperor's crest, and named The Storming Tablet (Totsugeki-Jo or Tokkou-Jo).
After the war, the Armed Forces' stockpiles of these medicines were dispersed through channels that are impossible to trace because of post-war disorder. (4) However, elderly veterans have told the author that, once the war was over, they took their medicines home and used them as a way of staying awake while studying or working through the night. They claim that the medicines were very useful and did not cause any harm. They also expressed surprise upon being told that the medicines were stimulants which have been thought to produce addiction and even psychosis. (5) Faulty memories may be at work here, making it difficult to assess the veracity of the facts these veterans relate, especially as they pertain to methamphetamine. Nevertheless, their recollections are highly suggestive of the ways in which people viewed such medicines in the early post-war period. The fact that they did not associate the medicines with ill effects might astonish readers today because narratives concerning methamphetamine have altered so thoroughly that the positive features of these drugs are rarely discussed.
Documentary evidence from the post-war period supports the veterans' testimony. One prominent example can be found in the minutes of the National Diet for November 24, 1949. The Ministry of Health and Welfare (the current Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare) had issued administrative guidelines (in other words "orders," even though they had no legal basis) and regulations to every pharmaceutical company to refrain from the production of methamphetamine and amphetamine, on the ground that some users, such as novelists, performers, and students, were said to abuse them. (6) However, Yuzo Ogawa, a representative of the Diet, called such administrative measures into question. "I have some questions about the Philopon problem," he said. "The Ministry of Health and Welfare, in the name of the undersecretary, asked every pharmaceutical company not to produce or to reduce the amount of production of Philopon and other stimulants. But the general working public and the industry as well have been suffering from such measures. According to medical and pharmaceutical points of view, the stimulants represented by Philopon are excellent medicines" (National Diet, 1949, p. 1116). He added that the problems associated with Philopon were confined to a small group of users and that it would be better to enforce strict control over those abusers rather than over the entire population.
Ogawa's comments indicate that in the late 1940s people could still discuss the positive effects of methamphetamine even after it was claimed to be dangerous or at least problematic. Since positive narratives regarding methamphetamine use remained in circulation, we can understand why Ogawa pleaded against the ministry's measures, arguing that methamphetamine was abused only by certain individuals. (7) In other words, whatever problems were associated with methamphetamine should be attributed not to the medicine itself but to the specific groups or persons who abused it. (8)
On the other hand, the ministry had good reasons for taking the action it did. Two high-profile deaths had already contributed toward Philopon's reputation as a dangerous drug. On October 14, 1946 Miss Wakana (Kikuno Kawamoto, 1910-1946), a famous comedienne, died from a heart attack suffered on the platform of the Nishinomiya Kitaguchi station near Kobe. Since she was known to have used Philopon regularly, her death was interpreted to have been caused by its use (Iwata, 1947). Then, on December 4, 1947, Sakunosuke Oda (1913-1948), a popular novelist, spat blood and entered Tokyo Hospital. He died on January 10, 1948. He was also well known for using Philopon, so many people thought that he died because of it. (9)
Incidents such as these led some people to condemn the use of Philopon and other stimulants. By 1949, significant condemnation of methamphetamine, or, to be more exact, its risers, especially writers and performers, arose. For example, Imao Hirano, a poet and a scholar of French literature, writing in the monthly magazine Sekai Hyouron (World View), criticized the use of Philopon in the post-war literature movement (Hirano, 1949). He recounted that he had met a demonic man during the war who sold Philopon even though he was well aware of its effects on young kamikaze. Hirano argued that Philopon was a symbol of the darkness of wartime and attacked the post-war literature movement for ignoring this fact and thereby encouraging a mindset not worthy of the post-war era. His essay is but one example of contemporary condemnation of methamphetamine users, especially artists who were looked down upon as immoral (Suzuki, 1949; Takeyama, 1949).
Methamphetamine, therefore, was initially condemned not for its intrinsic features but for its symbolic meaning and for its association with users who were perceived to be deviants. However, such views were not so powerful as to win support for any law aimed at directly prohibiting or at least controlling the use of methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Diet did not take any action along these lines. Rather, the ministry applied administrative guidelines and regulations to control the amount of production in order to prevent specific groups and persons from abusing the drug. In order to establish laws for methamphetamine control, more problematic aspects of the issue needed to arise.
The stimulant control law
The process of the legalization of methamphetamine control reflects how contemporaries viewed methamphetamine. In the National Diet, the first debate on methamphetamine use occurred in October 1949. Diet minutes demonstrate that the first step in calling methamphetamine into question related to circumstances around street children, most of whom had lost their parents in the war because of methamphetamine use. The following is an exchange between two Diet representatives:
Ms. Natsue Inoue: Now look, what I want to discuss is a problem about street children using Philopon that has been discussed in the newspapers. (10) If there are any documents about it, I would like to get them. Or, if there seems to be discussion regarding control over narcotics these days, then I'll ask the chair of the committee to do something, to invite some government officials related to things like that.
Chair (Mr. Juzo Tsukamoto): I have also been thinking of these important problems so I visited the Ministry of Health and Welfare, where I heard something from the Pharmaceutical Affairs Bureau and met the Chief of the Bureau to talk about it. He insisted that the Ministry was also anxious about the situation. He also mentioned that there were some committees for such matters. I think we will discuss this issue in another session. (National Diet, 1949, October 24, p. 6)
Subsequently, the Ministry of Health and Welfare sent administrative guidelines to every pharmaceutical company suggesting a production quota.
As the discussions went on in the Diet, it became clear that the representatives and government staff shared the opinion that those who were to be blamed were not the street children using methamphetamine but the smugglers and other adults who gave methamphetamine to them. These people made the street children abuse it, and some of them encouraged the children to steal in exchange for methamphetamine, so that the children were thought to be victims in that sense as well (National Diet, 24 Oct. 1949; Asahi Shinbun, 1949, 19 Oct., 24 Oct., 22 Nov.). In fact, street children often needed something to keep their energy level high, since food was still being rationed and its distribution was often behind schedule. (11)
Yet, while the Diet and the Ministry of Health and Welfare paid attention to Philopon abuse in the streets, many people still used methamphetamine regularly. An editorial titled "Where Does Philopon Go?" (Philopon wa Dounaru?) in the Journal of the Japan Medical Association (Nihon Ishikai Zasshi) in 1950 stated:
Recently there is a decline in news about the addiction to Philopon and other stimulants, whereas it was once a considerable topic of news and conversation, even the National Diet discussing it. Because the main consumers of the medicine are media stars like popular novelists, actors, singers, prostitutes, rascals in the streets, and street children, the news was often exaggerated. Supposedly the use of the medicine has spread over all social classes. When I met many journalists in a meeting and asked them about its use, I was very surprised to find that almost all of them have been using it regularly. Of course, they suggested that its use is not due to addiction but to the need to make work productivity rise. They excused it as follows, "'If the companies pay well, we do not need to work until late at night and to use such stuff." One of the reasons for the prevalence of this medicine is seriously damaged social circumstances, that is to say, the poverty of post-war society and the lack of wholesome amusements and non-essential grocery items. (Japan Medical Association, 1950, p. 141)
An incident involving Toyama Chemical (Toyama Kagaku Kougyou) was one of the triggers for the legalization of methamphetamine control (Kondo, 1955). In October 1950 approximately 100 young people (men and women) were arrested in connection with what was called a Mass Sexual Assault Incident in Tsuchiai Village (Tsuchiai Mura, absorbed into Urawa City in 1955). (12) Then it was brought to light that many of those arrested used Neoagotine (methamphetamine), produced by Toyama Chemical (see Figure 1). It was also revealed that Toyama Chemical produced over 10 million ampoules quarterly, whereas its production quota was only 51,000. However, the quota had no legal basis because it was just an administrative guideline, so that Toyama Chemical was fined only 5,000 yen (about 14 US dollars) for not reporting accurate production totals (National Council of Youth Problems, 1950; Asahi Shinbun, 1950, 10 Nov., (13) Nov., 15 Nov.)." The National Police Headquarters and other official bodies stressed the need for laws to provide strict control of such activities. (14)
The issue of methamphetamine control was thus promoted on the basis that those to be blamed were the smugglers and people producing methamphetamine secretly. Two psychopathologists were called to the Diet to testify about what later came to be identified as the negative features of methamphetamine use, notably addiction and psychosis (National Diet, 1951, February 15) Still, the first purpose of methamphetamine control was not to punish users but to maintain strict control over smugglers (National Diet, 1951, February 22). Thus, government staff explained the clause prohibiting the possession of the stimulant as follows:
Clause number 14 prohibits possession. One of the most difficult matters that official control bodies have to deal with is the lack of a legal basis to control possession. They cannot prosecute those who possess stimulants to sell in the town like Ueno. (15) The Pharmaceutical Affairs Law is only for the companies and persons who manufacture and deal in medicine by occupation. So the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law cannot be administered to those who just possess stimulant. Even if a person possesses stimulants to sell, s/he cannot be arrested unless the crime is committed in the presence of an officer. (National Diet, 1951, May 23, pp. 14-15)
The Stimulant Control Law was passed in June 1951. It prohibited possession of the drug; however, as noted above, the clause containing this provision was designed to arrest smugglers, who often insisted that their drugs were just for their personal use and not for sale (National Diet, 1951, 25 May).
The process whereby the Stimulant Control Law of 1951 came into being was driven by factors quite different from the conventional understanding of methamphetamine today, namely, that methamphetamine is a drug that often causes addiction and psychosis. In the early 1950s people could still talk about its positive values, even in public places such as the National Diet of Japan. And so, to understand how the perception of methamphetamine changed, we need to look at another process whereby new narratives on methamphetamine emerged following the passage of the 1951 law, and especially after 1954 when a campaign for the eradication of methamphetamine was launched. At this point, narratives on methamphetamine use began to converge into a new pattern, triggered in part by a famous homicide case.
On April 20, 1954 an 11-year-old schoolgirl, Kyoko Hosoda, was sexually assaulted and murdered in the restroom of the primary school in the Bunkyo district of Tokyo. She had gone to the restroom during a class and never returned. The teacher did not notice her absence until her mother, who was visiting the school, asked where her daughter was. A school-wide search ensued; finally, her mother found her body in the restroom. The case was called the Kyoko-chan incident, after the victim (Kyoko-chan Jiken). The shock in the community was such that newspapers covered the investigation almost every day until May 6, when the suspect was arrested. In all, 667 people were questioned during that period.
At the beginning, and sometimes later as well, the girl's murder was attributed to the teacher's carelessness (National Diet, 1954, April 20, May 14). However, when the suspect, a 20-year-old man named Shukichi Sakamaki, who had been suffering from tuberculosis and used Philopon, was arrested, a new interpretation arose--one that underlines the role of newspapers in symbolically demonstrating the transformation of methamphetamine narratives.
The newspaper Asahi Shinbun reported on May 6, just after the arrest, the suspect's version of events. While walking by the school, he said, he had decided to use its restroom. One of the stall doors was open slightly, revealing the foot of a girl. With the intention of raping her, he entered the stall and locked the door. The girl's screams as he assaulted her caused him to lose control, and he strangled her. He was now sorry for what he had done; in fact, the arresting officer related that Sakamaki had cried during his interrogation. The article also reported that Sakamaki had committed other sexual misconduct since he was teenager.
In another newspaper article, Sakamaki's father said that, while he had been sweet-tempered when very young, his character changed for the worse when his mother began occasionally cohabiting with her lover in Sakamaki's lodging (Asahi Shinbun, 1954, May 6). Most of the reports attributed his murder of Kyoko Hosoda to his warped personality, as well as the environment in which he grew up. However, on May 7, 1954, Asahi Shinbun introduced a new theme: methamphetamine use was one of the main causes of the incident, far more important than personality and environment. An article headlined "There Still Exists Another Sakamaki, Kyoko-chan Incident Tells Us" (Mada Iru Dai Ni no Sakamaki, Kyoko-chan Jiken wa Oshieru) reported the view of a psychopathologist, who had testified to the fatal features of methamphetamine in the Diet in 1951, that Sakamaki's behavior was typical of that of Philopon addicts. (16) The article denounced Philopon and stressed the importance of eradicating it (Asahi Shinbun, 1954, May 7). And on May 8, the newspaper argued strongly in an editorial that stimulants made young people lose their reason and commit crimes, often psychopathic, and that the eradication of stimulants was urgently needed.
The popular notion that many brutal crimes were caused by methamphetamine psychosis and that the problem was methamphetamine itself can be seen in the strong movement against the drug in 1954. That June, the Stimulant Control Law was amended to impose heavier punishments for violations of the law, (17) and in October the government launched a campaign for the drug's total eradication. This campaign resulted in significant numbers of arrests: 55,664 in 1954, the largest number in the history of the Stimulant Control Law (Figure 2).
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
The same association of brutal crimes with methamphetamine psychosis resulted in the transformation of narratives surrounding users. Starting in 1954, almost all the narratives by users that appeared in government documents, newspapers, and magazines were recast into a new and single pattern. Consider, for example, a magazine article that appeared in October 1954 entitled "The Actual Conditions of the Terrible Illness [Philopon] That Disrupts Our Country: The Devil Taking Aim at Young Peoples' Bodies" (Osorubeki Boukoku Byou [Philopon] no Jittai: Seishounen wo nerau nikutai no akuma). Claiming that methamphetamine use by young people posed a threat to Japanese society, the author (an ex-user of Philopon) pointed to his own experience as evidence. He said that, under the influence of the drug, his hallucinations reached the point that he mistook a dustbin for a policeman and a dog for a detective. Now 19 years old and in a reformatory, he was convinced that his troubles were the result of methamphetamine use. His account read as follows:
I found good effects from Philopon after using it for studying for my exams. I escalated my use up to 50 ampoules per day one month later. Nothing felt better than when I injected the needle into my blood stream. I felt as if I were in Heaven when I cut the top of an ampoule for preparation. When I could not get any Philopon, I sometimes felt good only when I injected just a needle without it. I took my school uniform to a pawnshop to buy it. In the meantime, I could not stand without shooting 5 cc every hour. One night, when I suffered from withdrawal pain, I rushed like a sleepwalker to the Korean village where I often bought it. But I found a policeman (it was a dustbin) crouching to apprehend me. I was surprised to see him and tried to go by another route, but the policeman chased me. I ran like mad and then a detective (a dog) jumped out suddenly in my path. I cried and returned to my house. Even then, I could not help thinking that the policeman was coming to catch me whenever I heard a sound at the gate and the kitchen ... I could not stop worrying, so I went upstairs and hid myself in the closet. I chattered because I could not help thinking that the electric cable at the stairs looked like the telephone line with which my family called the police ... I now find it was like I was crazy, but I spent such terrifying days that everything I heard and saw was the stuff for chasing me and even killing me. (Anonymous, 1954, pp. 107-108)
There are several interesting themes in this narrative. When we consider the above example from a sociological point of view, it can be thought of as an account that performs a discursive action to justify or excuse one's action (Scott & Lyman, 1968; Buttny, 1993). In addition, from an ethnomethodological perspective, accounting is one of the main activities of our ordinary life, which people use to render their actions normal, understandable, proper, and the like. People account for their actions so that others can make sense of what they are doing "for all practical purposes" (Garfinkel, 1967) in interactions. Against this background, we can view the testimony quoted above as an example in which the narrator explains his actions to make himself understandable to others--that he is using methamphetamine intoxication as a discursive resource to make sense of his actions. In other words, the narrator is presenting his actions as ones that were caused not by his inborn personality but by his use of methamphetamine.
Additionally and interestingly, the narrator's account of hallucinations shows the gap between the period of intoxication (insane in the past) and the period of recovery (sane at present), and makes his story persuasive. The reason why he can now describe his past actions so clearly is that he has "now" noticed "the fact" (i.e., his version of reality) that he experienced hallucinations in the "past." His awareness that the policeman was actually a dustbin and the detective actually a dog became possible only after he reached the realization that he had been intoxicated and suffering hallucination. This realization demonstrates that he has "recovered." In short, he finally understands what he did while under the influence of methamphetamine, and he can "now" (when he is narrating) discuss it rationally because he has stopped using methamphetamine and recovered from intoxication. His narrative itself functions to show that he is "now.... normal." To use the terminology of Harvey Sacks (1970), his narrative shows him "doing 'being ordinary." (18)
This type of narrative, then, argued that blame for misdeeds was to be applied not to users themselves but to methamphetamine. It showed that users were aware of their past problems (which are typically expressed in doubled descriptions of past and present, as in the example above), but that, in their view, it was not they themselves but the methamphetamine that was responsible for these problems. Negative features of methamphetamine were used as discursive resources to show that users were victimized, thereby allowing them to avoid responsibility for past actions and show that they are "now" normal.
When examining examples of methamphetamine narratives after 1954, the following common features emerge:
* Users began to use methamphetamine not because they wanted to, nor because they wanted to do bad things.
* They found themselves unable to stop using it.
* Their use of methamphetamine was accompanied by many ancillary troubles, such as hallucination and violence.
* They finally became aware that they had been intoxicated.
This type of narrative provides the standpoint from which Japanese policy on methamphetamine has been justified since 1954, and especially in the 1970s, during the second prevalence of stimulants (Sato, 2006: Chapter 8). In the 1970s, the government published a booklet entitled Terrors of the White Powder (Prime Minister's Office (1977)), in which the same narrative was repeated but with the following variation: users often express their gratitude to police for their arrest at the end.
This theme occurs throughout the narratives cited in Terrors of the White Powder, which was based mainly on testimony collected during police investigations. The booklet was often cited in books and magazines (e.g., Shukan Sankei ; Muroo [1982a, 1982b]), which presumably made the narratives even more popular. The widespread prevalence of the booklet does not mean that the government was involved in a sort of conspiracy to shape narratives in certain ways. Rather, people arrested for using stimulants, mainly methamphetamine, explained their actions in such a way as to make themselves understandable to others, in this case police officers. The narrative of methamphetamine users had been transformed so thoroughly that users could never talk about their experiences in the same terms as they had before 1954, at least in public places.
These historical and interactional dynamics reveal how the meanings of methamphetamine underwent such an abrupt change and how many people reached the conclusion that those who used methamphetamine inevitably became insane and could not recover--a belief that most Japanese hold today. (19) There is now a consensus, including among official drug-control organizations, that methamphetamine has such fatal features that no one can escape them once she or he starts using the drug. This may explain why no institution for rehabilitation had developed until the Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center (DARC) was organized in 1985 in Tokyo. (20)
There is another aspect of this story which also accounts for the changing narratives of methamphetamine. That is the belief, which in part drove the anti-methamphetamine campaign of 1954, that methamphetamine abuse was caused by hostile forces originating from outside Japan.
The state of Japanese society during the occupation directly relates to transformations in methamphetamine narratives. After losing the war, Japan was occupied by the United States military and controlled by General Headquarters/Supreme Commander for Allied Powers (GHQ), under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. In 1949 the People's Republic of China was founded by the Chinese Communist Party, and in May of the following year MacArthur argued that the Japanese Communist Party should be made illegal. Over the next month, 24 members of the Central Committee of the Japanese Communist Party and some officers of the party journal were expelled from the public service. Subsequently, when the Korean War (1950-1953) broke out on June 25, 1950, the menace of communism began to be talked about publicly. The GHQ ordered the government, mass media, and other companies to expel all communists, starting in July. Approximately eleven thousand people were expelled (National Diet, 1950, November 17), launching the Red Purge.
The authorities also felt threatened by movements which were thought to be under communist control. On May Day, 1952, large anti-government demonstrations and marches were organized in several big cities and many people were arrested; 253 had been prosecuted by January 1953 (Asahi Shinbun, 1953, January 28). The most infamous demonstration happened in Tokyo, in the park in front of the Imperial Palace. That demonstration led to the arrest of 1,206 people and the prosecution of 236 (National Diet, 1953, July 17). A plenary session of the Diet and several of its committees discussed the unrest and concluded that communists and their sympathizers were responsible (National Diet, 1952, May 6, May 7, May 9). And later the government officially announced that the turbulence had been engineered by "foreign communist countries" (National Diet, 1952, July 1).
In the years afterwards, the menace of communism--particularly as embodied by the communist state of North Korea-and the illegal manufacture and smuggling of methamphetamine gradually became intertwined. The connection was not so clear in 1952, though one newspaper, Asahi Shinbun, hinted at it for the first time in August of that year (Asahi Shinbun, 1952, 25 Aug.). The article reported that two Japanese men had illegally produced methamphetamine in Tokyo and transported it to Korean neighborhoods in Kawasaki (next to Tokyo). It also noted, interestingly, that one of the offenders was an ex-communist. One year later, in August 1953, the connection between Koreans, communism, and methamphetamines was made more explicit: "Much of the illegal production of Philopon was done by Korean people, who cannot live by selling clothes, moonshine, and cigarettes in the underground markets lately. They have changed their source of income to the manufacture of Philopon, which is relatively easy to produce in a small place, as reported by the Metropolitan Police. They also argued that it is difficult to control them because there are strong forces that plead against control on the ground that 'it threatens people's right to live'" (Asahi Shinbun, 1953, 17 Aug.).
In this statement, the term "some strong forces" was meant to suggest communists. The menace of communism could be discursively connected with methamphetamine illegal production and smuggling when mediated by Korean people. In other words, Korean people--probably because of the large number of marginalized Koreans in Japan--was a discursive resource which was an available and perhaps even necessary linkage between the contemporary perceptions of the menace of communism and the illegal production and smuggling of methamphetamine.
In October 1953 the Metropolitan Police conducted inspections of Korean villages and other areas for suspected violation of the Stimulant Control Law, which resulted in the arrest of many Koreans for the illegal production of methamphetamine (National Diet, 1953, October 30). (21) In total, there were 38,514 arrests, the second largest number of arrests in the history of the legislation, leading to an upward curve in the number of arrests in the 1950s (see Figure 2). The chief of the Metropolitan Police noted that 71% of the people arrested were Korean and that the police had conducted an intensive search of the places where there supposedly existed many sites for illegal production and smuggling, especially in the east of Tokyo. (22) In other words, the figure of 71% pertained to the inspection of specific places, mainly Korean villages. (23)
These trends accelerated in 1954, especially after the Kyokochan incident. Illustrative in this regard was the debate in the Diet concerning amendments to the Stimulant Control Law, which started in May 1954, just after the murder of Kyoko Hosoda. In that debate, the Stimulant Control Law was discussed in terms of revisions to the Immigration Law, including the enforced repatriation of Koreans (National Diet, 1954, May 25). This was because of public perceptions that Koreans smuggled stimulants and many of them were communists or communist sympathizers who were engaged in attacks on Japan and the Japanese people. However, the clause providing for enforced repatriation was not included in the final bill because of ongoing disagreement with the government of South Korea.
Illegal production and smuggling of methamphetamine had already been discussed with the communist regimes of North Korea and China, explicitly and, almost always, because of Japanese fears of communist invasion after the Korean War was suspended on July 27, 1953. When the campaign against methamphetamine was launched in October 1954, the chief of the crime-prevention division of the Metropolitan Police commented in a newspaper that the police would tighten controls over the smugglers, even when Korean powers tried to interrupt their investigations (Asahi Shinbun, 1954. 15 Oct.). Similarly, the report of the Metropolitan Police on its campaign began on this nationalist note: "In order to maintain the purity of Japanese ethnicity and, especially, to attempt to raise sound young people who will contribute to our future generations, now is the time when we have to pluck up our courage to eradicate stimulants" (Metropolitan Police, 1955, p. 1). Later. the report made explicit reference to Koreans:
Seventy percent of these smugglers, unlawful producers, and bootleggers consist of Korean people and they gnaw at the bodies and spirits of approximately 1,500,000 of our fellow countrymen. At its most extreme, we seem to be living with a large crowd of people going insane and becoming brutal offenders.... Our fellow countrymen, especially young people, are the victims of Korean people seeking their own interests, and the result will be the destruction of our future generations, who will become sick and decline in health and finally turn into addicts who will destroy our entire social order.... Korean people who are well informed of the dangers of stimulants rarely use it themselves nor do they allow their children to use it. (Ibid.. pp. 19-20)
The above could be considered nationalist rhetoric, because it distinguishes between "we" and "they" with negative attributes linked to stories inspired by "them" (Billig. 1995). As I have already suggested, this type of nationalist talk had been strong and popular since 1953. Further, its suggestion that methamphetamine users, especially young people, were victims of the smugglers had been popular since the late 1940s and early 1950s, when methamphetamine began to be treated as a problem. Such nationalist talk can be said to have emerged from arguments that young people were victims whereas the Koreans were assailants.
I do not argue that claims regarding communism and Korean illegal production and smuggling were patently false, but rather that discussions over methamphetamine use were often fueled by perceived threats, real or implied, to the Japanese people. This type of discourse was so strong that it effectively functioned as an intellectual frame in which methamphetamine use could be critiqued, because such criticism of methamphetamine use implied not individual vice but a threat to the future of Japan. (24)
I have argued in this article that the abrupt change in the discourse of methamphetamine in 1950s in Japan was caused by the transformation of the narratives of methamphetamine use on the part of users themselves and by nationalist dialogue concerning illegal production and smuggling of methamphetamine. In support of this claim, I have outlined the events that led to the passage of the Stimulant Control Law and also analyzed the narratives on methamphetamine that emerged in subsequent years.
This argument has some theoretical implications. The process of extending legal control over methamphetamine production, as well as changes in the narratives and images of methamphetamine, can be seen as the result of a moral panic that arose in post-war situation Japan, a panic in which moral barricades (Cohen. 1972) were set up to prevent post-war disorder. Moral Panic theory is very useful in explaining transformations in methamphetamine narratives.
However, there are important points that need to be made about Moral Panic theory. One of its main assumptions is that there should be some latent moral panic phenomena that precede the emergence of perceptions of a social problem. That is why most interpretations based on Moral Panic theory focus on the content of the panic and the timing of the emergence of the problem, which are often revealed by materials and descriptions in mass media (e.g., Ben-Yehuda, 1990). However, the link between the preceding panic and the following problem is not necessarily clear because the link itself is constituted by the description of the account by the researcher. In other words, the link between the panic and the problem is often described as the link between categories developed by the researcher to make sense of the causal relationship. The link between categories could be said to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This caution does not mean that any interpretation based on Moral Panic theory is invalid. Rather, it is possible for us to develop points of view, such that streams of language games (to quote Wittgenstein) related to differing topics meet each other, and subsequently new or revised versions of reality emerge through the articulation of discourses. From this kind of viewpoint, methamphetamine and nationalism were discursively joined in Japan in the post-war period, and dialogue between them yielded a movement against external forces that were presumed to be hostile. The merit of this type of interpretation is that we can describe relationships between the discourses without assuming any causal relationship.
As stated at the outset of this article, it was widely believed immediately after the Second World War that Japan had a methamphetamine problem because of the then prevailing social disorder, which produced large numbers of cases of methamphetamine psychosis. However, through careful analyses of the historical record, an alternative interpretation becomes possible. Methamphetamine discourse and nationalism joined in the 1950s, articulated each other, and brought into being the dominant narratives of today.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I express my gratitude to Professor David T. Courtwright of the University of North Florida. who recommended me to present part of my book Drug and Discourse: Methamphetamine in Japan to the Global Approaches conference; to Dr. Kyoko Murakami of University of Bath. a specialist in discouse analysis, who commented on the first draft of this article; and to Dr. Norman Smith of University of Guelph (Canada). who encouraged me to write in English.
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(1.) Nagai first mentioned methamphetamine (Phenyl-methylaminopropan) in an article published in 1893 (Nagai, 1893). However, according to Miura, Nagai discovered it while researching Maou ("Ma Huang" in Chinese) in 1888 (Miura, 1941). Miura experimented with Nagai's extracts of Maou (Ibid. Yamashita, 1966).
(2.) Methamphetamine (Phenyl-methylaminopropan) and amphetamine (Phenyl-aminopropan) both belong to a family of ephedrine-based stimulant drugs. However, their structural formulas are slightly different from each other. Methamphetamine has CH3 (a methyl group) instead of H at one end of the formula of amphetamine. This difference is thought to make methamphetamine more effective than amphetamine.
(3.) Since the 1970s, stimulants, including methamphetamine, have been called Shabu in common parlance in Japan. In recent years, it has sometimes been called Speed or S (for Speed).
(4.) Much of the stock of methamphetamine in the Armed Forces was confiscated by General Headquarters (GHQ) after the war. The GHQ subsequently returned it to the Ministry of the Health and Welfare (National Diet. 1949. November 30).
(5.) The author conducted interviews with elderly people, including veterans, in March 1997 and January 2006. Interviews with younger people using stimulants and other drugs in Japan are also available in Sato (2000).
(6.) The Ministry of Health and Welfare produced many administrative guidelines and regulations on stimulants (methamphetamine and amphetamine) after 1948. One of its most popular measures defined stimulants as strong medicine. Strong medicine means that identification and usage outline was needed at time of purchase; also. persons under fourteen years of age could not purchase it. On August 15. 1948 ministry regulation no. 37 under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law defined any such medicine of over 1 mg per tablet as strong medicine. And on March 28. 1949 the ministry amended the regulation to define all tablets and powder containing methamphetamine and amphetamine as strong medicine. Before this amendment was put in place, the ministry had announced to pharmaceutical companies that it had a plan to control the sale of all stimulants, and that these medicines needed to alert consumers that they might cause habituation (Ikuta, 1951; National Diet. 1950, December 5).
(7.) Interestingly, people who were deemed to fall in this category could talk about their experiences of methamphetamine in the same terms. For example, the novelist Ango Sakaguchi (1906-1955) wrote: "When the drug does not work so effectively, you could just get another one. It is important that you should start with a small amount. You must not accept the mundane belief that stimulants do not have any effect unless you increase the dosage; I did not experience any harm from those. It is sleeping tablets that harm your health" (Sakaguchi, 1950. p. 7). Following his death, Sakaguchi has become famous for his use of stimulants, in part because of an essay written in 1958 by Shiro Ozaki, another novelist and one of Sakaguchi's friends (Ozaki. 1958). At a time when claims were being made concerning the psychotic-inducing effects of stimulants, Ozaki stated that after 1949 Sakaguchi himself was psychotic.
(8.) This type of discourse is called "attribution talk" in discourse analysis (Edwards & Potter, 1992).
(9.) This was one among several possible interpretations. He had long suffered from tuberculosis and several times had experienced hemoptysis (spitting of blood), for which he had received medical treatment. His methamphetamine use might thus be interpreted as reflective of his character, a point that was made in some essays about him (Fujisawa, 1978).
(10.) Inoue's concern presumably was based on an article in Asahi Shinbun a week earlier, entitled "'Young Philopon Patients: Theft and Extortion to Earn Money for Philopon: Metropolitan Police Begins to Control" (Shounen Philopon Kanja: Kusuridai Hosisa kara Nusumi ya Yusuri: Keishityo Torishimari ni Nori Dasu) (Asahi Shinbun. 1949, 19 Oct.).
(11.) For example, an article entitled "Juvenile Philoponia'" (Shounen Philoponia) in the magazine Shukan Asahi on December 12, 1949 stated that street children bought vitamin and dextrose ampoules because they needed something to keep their energy high when they could not get Philopon. For many children, especially those without parents in urban areas, food was difficult to obtain. Research study done in March 1947 showed that the number of runaway children had increased three times since 1945 and that most of them ran away from urban areas to countryside to get food (Akatsuka, 1982. pp. 17-18).
(12.) On October 11, 1950 the newspaper Saitama Shinbun reported the incident under the headline "Mass Sexual Assault by a Delinquent Group in Tsuchiai Village, Six People Including Women Arrested" ("Huryou Ren ga Shuudan Boukou, Tsuchiai Mura, Onna mo Mazaru Rokumei Kenkyo") (Saitama Shinbun, 1950, October 11). Two weeks later. Saitama Shinbun described the police investigations in the village and stated that "over one hundred were raped" (Okasareta mono Hyakunin Ijou) (Saitama Shinbun, 1950, October 23). The same report attributed the incident to the presence of only one policeman in the village and the indifference of parents to their children's behavior. However. the police had a different view, claiming that Tsuchiai had long been famous for its brutality and that the cause of the incident was the stimulants that were used by almost all those arrested: further, they blamed the manufacturer of the stimulants. Toyama Chemical (National Council of Youth Problems, 1950: 98). In addition, in a debate in the Diet in November 1950, another culprit was identified: indecent magazines, known as "Kasutori Zasshi," which were widely circulated in post-war Japan (National Diet, 1950, November 29).
(13.) Kondo (1955) argued that the "Mass Sexual Assault Incident" was relatively more important than the actions of Toyama Chemical in the passage of the Stimulant Control Law because it showed that Neoagotin addiction and psychosis was at the root of such behavior. However. Kondo discussed it retrospectively in 1955. This suggests that the psychotic effects of methamphetamine were not an issue in 1950: certainly, they were not mentioned in Diet debates. These were elaborated upon mainly after 1954.
(14.) Interestingly, in the ensuing debate in the Diet over stimulant-control legislation, one representative (who later became one of the authors of the final bill) stated that the bill should focus only on limiting use, on the ground that the New Police Force itself (which later became the Self-Defence Armed Forces of Japan) intended to use stimulants. This opinion was criticized by the psychopathologists who testified before the Diet (National Diet, 1951, February 15). Nevertheless. it suggests that the use of stimulants did not necessarily elicit strong reactions in all circles and that some could still talk about their positive effects.
(15.) Ueno is a town in the Taito district, to the east of Tokyo, where many smugglers were alleged to have sold methamphetamine.
(16.) This was Shou Hayashi. M.D., the director of Matsuzawa Hospital of Tokyo (Asahi Shinbun, 1951, May 7).
(17.) However, addicts were not always treated as criminals, as they are today. The chief of the Metropolitan Police. responding to the Diet representative who argued that addicts should be arrested and treated as criminals, said that addicts should be treated as patients unless they committed crimes (National Diet, 1954, May 20).
(18.) See Sacks. 1970 (1992), pp. 215-221, and Edwards, 1997, pp. 71-72. Sacks's discussion of "doing 'being ordinary'" sees ordinariness as a concerted interactional accomplishment.
(19.) For example, an opinion survey conducted in October 1983 showed that 94% of the respondents who said that that they knew the word "'stimulant" answered yes when asked whether they realized the habit-forming nature of methamphetamine. And 94% of the subjects stated that one became paranoid after using the stimulant for some time (Cabinet Office, 1984). In a similar opinion survey in January 2006. 98.3% of the respondants said that methamphetamine was a drug terrifying in its effects: 89.4% said that it was terrifying because it led to intoxication; and 70.9% said that a person became addicted to it after using it only once (Cabinet Office, 2006).
(20.) It was believed for a long time. even by recovered alcoholics and by those who supported recovery from alcoholism, that stimulant addiction could not be similarly overcome (Kondo, 1997, 2000).
(21.) The inspection continued in the next month, November 1953, when, following the passage of the law for establishing the Council of Youth Problems that June, "the campaign for protecting young people" (Seishounen Hogo Ikusei Undou) was launched.
(22.) The Chief of the Metropolitan Police and the director of the criminal- investigation division of the National Police related how they bad scrutinized possible connections between the Japanese Communist Party. other communist activists, and Korean manufacturers and smugglers of illegal substances: however, firm evidence of such connections was still lacking (National Diet, 1954, 20 May).
(23.) As time passed, the identity of the hostile forces discussed in methamphetamine narratives gradually changed, the new targets being Japanese gangs (1970s and 1980s), Iranian migrants to Japan seeking employment (1990s), and. currently, North Korean agents.
(24.) Recall the article "'The Actual Conditions of Terrible Illness (Philopon) that Disrupts Our Country," cited above, in which an ex-user of methamphetamine narrated his past problems. As this example shows, nationalist discourse functions as the frame of the narrative of the user of methamphetamine.
FIGURE 1 Patented medicines containing methamphetamine and amphetamine in the 1940s (Ikuta, 1951) Patent Name Company Content Hospitan Santendo Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Takarapin Takara Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Neopampron Ono Pharmaceutical Company methamphetamine Methypamine Manwa Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Hinodedorine Hinode Chemical Company methamphetamine Neopamine Toho Sangyo Corporation methamphetamine Supermine Nissin Chemical methamphetamine Corporation Kobapon Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Industries Company methamphetamine Methypron Yodogawa Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Fukuzedrin Touzai Pharmacy methamphetamine Neophilon Nitto Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries Company methamphetamine Philopon Dainippon Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Proamine Ueno Fine Chemical methamphetamine Industry Methylpropamine Taisho Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Zedrin Takeda Pharmaceutical amphetamine Company Aron Shizuoka Caffeine Company methamphetamine Hospitan Mita Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Agotine Toyama Chemical Company amphetamine Neoagotine (Actamine) Toyama Chemical Company methamphetamine Propamine Naigai Seiyaku Company methamphetamine Okapron Okano Pharmaceutical methamphetamine Company Methypron Shiraimatsu Pharmaceutical Industries Company methamphetamine Parten Shionogi and Company amphetamine Zandorman Doujin Pharmaceutical amphetamine Company
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|Publication:||Contemporary Drug Problems|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2008|
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