News 8 april — 18:57

Cannabis crimes surge during pandemic in Japan

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More than 5,000 cannabis-related offenses were reported in Japan in 2020, the highest annual figure for the country, police records revealed on Thursday.

Japan’s National Police Agency said 5,034 people were booked for such crimes last year as the COVID-19 pandemic restricted people to their homes, according to Kyodo News.

The figure marked an increase of 713 from 2019, with teens and those in their 20s accounting for a majority of the offenders, the data showed.

The agency warned that youngsters were largely unaware of the risks of consuming drugs and linked it to the circulation of “positive information online.”

Police will boost cyber patrols and use social media to crack down on drug deals, the report said.

Among the 5,034 offenders, 887 were aged between 14 and 19, and 2,540 of them were in their 20s.

An overall analysis found that five individuals per 100,000 in Japan were involved in cannabis offenses last year, double of the figure seen in 2016.

- Tokyo heading for COVID-19 emergency

Coronavirus infections continue to rise in the capital Tokyo, with 545 more cases raising the overall count to 124,450 on Thursday.

The Japanese government will place Tokyo under a quasi-state of emergency to give authorities the power to implement stricter measures to stem the spread of the virus, Kyodo News reported.

The move comes after a request by Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to finalize the decision after a meeting of the country’s coronavirus task force on Friday evening, the agency reported.

A medical emergency and stringent restrictions have been imposed in the western Osaka province, where cases have risen at a steeper rate than Tokyo for the past week.

The country’s daily case count crossed 3,000 on Wednesday and its overall tally now stands at over 493,000, including 9,278 fatalities.

Japan kicked off a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive in February and has administered at least 1.29 million doses to date.

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