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ID: 440

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Drug Policy Reform and Advocacy; Harm Reduction Advocacy and Activism

Presenting author: Goro Koto

Presenting author biography:

Japan Advocacy Network for Drug Policy

Challenge of harm reduction advocacy in the Japan’s social values of morality

Goro Koto

Since its launch in the end of 2015, the Japan Advocacy Network for Drug Policy (JANDP), a multidisciplinary collective working to strengthen the debate on drug policy alternatives, has taken action of harm reduction advocacy. JANDP joined in UNGASS 2016 as the delegation members from the civil society, which brought several opportunities of discussing with the delegates on the current drug policy with human rights and health perspectives. JANDP has also conducted more than 10 formal/casual talks about drug policy and harm reduction with various stakeholders, which makes it clear how the social values of morality in Japan are deeply rooted. The typical remarks from the participants who are professional working in this field were as follows.
-What does “harm” means? Using illicit drug is social harm, isn’t it?
-It is desirable that there are no people who use illicit drugs.
-It should be reasonable that people who use illicit drugs get arrested because they broke the law.
-We won’t help people who use illicit drugs to avoid their taking responsibility of criminal charges.
-There should be the same approach as Philippines’ towards people who use drugs.
-It is good to go to the jail because it was the way they could recover from drug addiction.
We learned from these talks that the Japan’s social values of morality toward drug use go much beyond of the principals of harm reduction. And it is difficult for us to find some hints to deal with this morality from the resources that effectively work in mainly Europe and North America. However, JANDP has developed its fellowships in Asian regions, and we learned that harm reduction advocacy in Asia has already began and been developing. Now JANDP becomes ready to learn from and make its best effort to contribute to this movement.