to main page
Industrial hemp in Japan

See also:
See also: Hemp for fibre, food and fuel, Hemp in religion, as a "drug", as medicine.
See also: Old woodcuts about hemp farming
See also: Miasa village in Nagano prefecture
See also: Hemp farming in the mountains of Gunma new article!

Hemp harvest in Miasa Mura, 
Nagano prefecture
Hemp harvest in Nagano

Cultivation of Industrial Hemp in Japan

Since the latter half of 1998 the awareness of hemp has been rising.

Information on hemp came to be known to a lot of people over several years in Japan. There are chiefly three factors behind that. One is that the first hemp restaurant in Japan opened in Shimo-Kitazawa, Tokyo on August 15, '98. It's name is cafe restaurant ASA (in Japanese: Hemp). Shimo-Kitazawa is an area that is always crowded with young people. The town is known as a place with a lot of unique shops. Mr. Maeda is managing the cafe restaurant "ASA". Three years ago Mr. Maeda started a hemp special general shop called "TAIMADO" here. The atmosphere of the shop is Japanese style. It is not a doubtful, strange atmosphere in hemp so far. This cafe-restaurant is an unusual point to be able to do the eating as for hemp seed. Therefore, it has appeared in various magazines, radio and television in Japan. Moreover, this shop established a homepage on the Internet. It is a valuable scene where hemp information on Japan is obtained, and a very popular homepage.

There are the following dishes: Hemp pizza, hemp spaghetti, hemp bread, hemp croquette, hemp bean curd, hemp milk, hemp hamburg steak, hemp ice cream, Rice gruel of hemp and vegetables with hemp dressing. Hemp seeds are used for various menus.

     In Japan, there is the world where the example is not seen in various foreign countries and all dishes are gourmet countries which can do the eating. However, until this restaurant opened there was no chance at all to eat hemp.

The second was a program broadcast on television on November 15,'98. The program introduces the taking class to a environmental issue all over the world comprehensible on Sunday every week. The program was telecasted for 30 minutes by the title "Hemp saves the earth". The content of the program understood very much and was good at anther.

For instance, hemp was historically used as paper and a fiber crop, it was restricted as a narcotic drug, and cultivation was encouraged in the United States during the war. It has been being introduced that the research to industrial use is advanced etc in Europe and Australia since 90's. Moreover, if hemp was grown in the farmland of 12% in Europe, it was introduced to be able to board the demand for paper in the world. However, hemp is a plant in Japan restricted by the law. Therefore, the story of these overseas cases emphasized an industrial hemp it in which the marihuana was not effective at the end of the program. How much influence power did this program have? The audience rating of this program was about 10%. This shows that about 10,000,000 Japanese saw the telecast. I think that the awareness of hemp went up rapidly.

The third is that The Body Shop which was the natural sect make-up shop put cosmetics of the oil use for hemp seed on the market at the end of December '98. The Body Shop increases sales in Japan next to Britain of the birthplace, and the number of shops exceeds 120.
     The shop is suitable for nature and a healthy intention of young person, and very popular. It was a considerable impact that the shop had taken up Hemp. The poster of the leaf of hemp had decorated the shop and the show window at the time put on the market. Everyone who passed the shop front will have paid attention to the poster. Lip cream and skin care which used hemp became popular more than the forecast.

There are factors other than three which has been described up to now, too. It is that clothes, hats and small articles made of hemp extended as a fashion in the apparel industry. The clothes shop is selling mixed of hemp and cotton as jeans and T-shirts now. The one made of hemp is increasing surely though all clothes do not become so. After that, a Japanese translation of "THE GREAT BOOK OF HEMP" was put on the market in June, '98. This book is valuable information which can know all of hemp.

Current state of cultivation in Japan

There are results which have been grown as a fiber crop for 10,000 years or more, that is, the age of Jomon. It is clarified to have eaten the truth as then person puts on clothes of hemp from ruins of the age. To our regret, information on hemp is not spread so much from Japan. Therefore, a lot of people all over the world do not know about the deep relation of hemp with the Japanese.

Hemp is not only used as clothes and for food. For instance, the string of the bow of archery which is traditional sports of Japan is and there is a make-up rope of the Grand Sumo Tournament. Hemp has been used as a cord, various ropes, strings, and strings of clogs which a lot of people were putting on as shoes. In addition, it was used as a preservation bag of rice which was Japanese staple food and was indispensable to a religious event of the Shinto shrine.

However, the cannabis control law was enacted under GHQ under the United States occupation after World War II in 1948. As a result, an annual license from the prefecture governor was needed to grow hemp . It felt that the farmer was the same as making of the cultivation of hemp the narcotic drug because of the licensing system degree. After that, hemp products of the plant origin disappeared one after another by the spread of the life use goods of the oil origin in postwar days. And the number of farmers who grow hemp has decreased gradually.

The hemp agriculture of Japan was 4049.2 ha the total planted acreage of the fiber harvest and the seed harvest, and a scale of 25,118 people in 1950.
However, the planted acreage in 1996 was only 12.4 ha according to Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry today. Of that 12.0 ha was grown in Tochigi Prefecture, some 50 km north of Tokyo.

There are only 102 hemp farmers now. (From the Ministry of Health and Welfare Pharmaceutical and Medical Safety Bureau Narcotics Division as of January 1, 1999)

In the cultivation scale of today's hemp, the product is used very slightly for bow strings, for religious ceremonies and folkcraft. Hemp is exactly cultivated species in the crisis of extermination in 50 years.

About the cannabis control law of Japan

This law is one of five drug laws in Japan. They are as follows:

  • Narcotic drug and psychotropic drug control law (enactment in 1990)
  • Cannabis control law (enactment in 1948)
  • Opium law (enactment in 1954)
  • Stimulants Control Law (enactment in 1951)
  • Law of special case corresponding to narcotic drug new agreement of 1991 years (enactment in 1991)

The cannabis control law is called a defective law. Because, it is not possible to sufficiently discuss it in the Diet at the confusion time just after World War II. Concretely, the definition of the kind of the managed hemp is wrong. If hemp is managed as a narcotic drug, it is necessary to describe the kind of Cannabis Indica. Rum clearly in the law. However, writing in the text of the law is only Cannabis Sativa L. chiefly used as a fiber crop. In addition, it is surprising that the purpose of the law is not mentioned at all. This is a definite defect law. We are arrested by this law because of the possession of hemp. It is quite irrelevant to that time whether the kind of hemp is a "Indica" or "Sativa". It is judged only by the presence of THC. In addition, when a doctor was about to use hemp as a medicine, this law restricts both the doctor's application and the use of the patient. If the doctor uses hemp as a medicine in Japan, he can do nothing unless he first acquires a hemp license and the medicine be administered to me. Indescribable is a foolish talk.

This law is obviously opposed by people interested in hemp. However, a lot of citizens are convinced that hemp is a narcotic drug. There is hardly a movement for abolishing the law because of consideration regardless of me for a lot of people.
     Fortunately hemp cultivation is not completely prohibited by the present law. Then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry negotiated on the cannabis control law with GHQ. As a result, hemp cultivation became a licensing system instead of a complete interdiction as in the original GHQ bill. Hemp was a farm product indispensable for the Japanese to live at that time. In the text, it is with "Except stalk mature of the hemp grass and the product (The resin is excluded)". In a word, the use of the fiber of the seed and the stalk of hemp does not especially have a problem.

What do I have to do to grow hemp in Japan?

A "Hemp handling person license" which is issued by the prefecture governor is needed. There are two kinds of "hemp handling person licenses".
"Cultivation license" This is a license for farmers. "Researcher license" This is a license for the police to manage the hemp chiefly as a narcotic drug. There are 276 person researcher license . (From the Ministry of Health and Welfare Pharmaceutical and Medical Safety Bureau Narcotics Division as of January 1, 1999) Validity term ends on December 31 from the day to the year when the license was acquired. The update of each year is needed for the license. It currently costs a license application fee of 6700 yen (about $60, $1=110 yen).

The law specifies that a license is to be denied to the following persons:

  • Those who are poisoned of narcotic drug, hemp or opium
  • The one punished to punishment more than confinement
  • Incompetent, quasi-incompetent person or minor
Those here who are poisoned indicate the person who cannot live socially.

Acquisition flow chart of hemp handling person license

Step 1. Securing of farmland of cultivation schedule

The agriculture of Japan decreases in the supporter, makes to aged, and is declining industry. Therefore, there are only 42% food self-support ratio of Japan. By law a person who is not a farmer cannot sell or buy farmland. Therefore, securing land is not easy. You might think cooperation with the farmer from old times. Because the prejudice that "hemp is a narcotic drug" has settled, it is necessary to explain the misunderstanding. However, there is a method which only and is good to secure the farmland. It is had cooperation with an organic farmer who comparatively has understanding and exists.

Step 2. Clarification of use of cultivation purpose and product If you are not a research purpose, and engage in farming, the application form submitted to the administration should choose either of the use of the seed and the fiber. There is especially no problem even if both are chosen. And, it is necessary to decide where to sell crops. Because, if there is no purchaser, it is not necessary to make, and the license need not be delivered to you.

Step 3. The outline of the license acquisition is explained in a prefecture administrative authorities. The pharmaceutical affair section and the Narcotics Division are having jurisdiction over "The cannabis control law". This post is literally usual to the management of hemp as a narcotic drug. You should have courage and say, "I want to grow hemp". Your speech might not be able to have understanding completely. However, the law admits the cultivation to harvest the seed and the fiber. Let's introduce an overseas case with hemp agriculture. Especially, France, Germany, Britain, and Canada, etc.

Step 4. The "hemp handling person license" application is submitted to administrative authorities. Doctor's attestation is needed if applying for the first time. You say, "I want doctor's attestation because of the license acquisition of the narcotic drug" in the hospital. You might be angry why it is necessary to do this. Let's endure starting only once like this because it is painful. In the current state, the following documents are needed.

  1. Application form which filled in grown purpose of application, cultivation person's name, and place and area
  2. Doctor's attestation
  3. Promissory letter because of no violation of law
  4. Customer's certificates (customer's corporation registry etc.)

Step 5. Inspection of growing area by administrative authorities

It is likely to come for the inspection to see what place to grow an industrial hemp. According to circumstances, this process might not exist.

  • "Dread of drug abuse"
  • "Problem on sanitation"
  • "Dread of theft in management"
These three standards exist as an interpretation of the law though are not described clearly in the law. This might need the farmland to be enclosed with the hedge.

Step 6. The license is issued through a strict examination.

It takes about one month from submitting the application form to the issue of the license. Because they are perhaps unexampled, the administration might not issue the license. The person who applied for the license will fight in the court if the license is not issued. One is actually such a situation.

Problem and the future of hemp cultivation

We cannot easily grow an industrial hemp because of the situation (a restriction of the law, an agriculture decline, and little hemp information). And, we become problems secure of the seed to grow an industrial hemp. Only the Agricultural Experiment Station in Tochigi Pref. (a region where hemp is still grown) breeds and is managing a low THC breed named "Tochigishiro". At present, this Agricultural Experiment Station is refusing the offer of the seed to the farmer outside the prefecture. Therefore, it is difficult to secure the seed of the low THC kind excluding Tochigi Pref.. We cannot import hemp seed in the law if not heat-treated so as not to germinate. We do not become movements to revive cultivation in this Japan easily as long as this problem is not solved.

However, there is bright movement, too. International minor cereals food symposium is held in Japan in August, 2000. Japanese staple food is rice. If our long history is seen, this fact is a recent custom. Till then, our ancestor was eating a lot of minor cereals of foxail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, and buckwheats for a long time. There was considerably a region where such minor cereals were grown, too. The vegetarian in Japan is paying attention to the minor cereals. And, they are practicing eating habits which center on grain and a little vegetable. The compatibility of the dish is often very delicious of this cereals and hemp to tell the truth. It will be paid to attention as a food with a high nutritive value in the future. In the spread of hemp, having a lot of people learn the goodness as the food might become a key.

At the end

Hemp is a plant to have associated for 10,000 years. The road will almost cut to the relation between the Japanese and hemp in 50 years after being able to do the law. The situation which comes round in hemp in Japan is difficult. However, interesting one will work in various fields, and they become shape little by little. In this report, a lot of problems when spreading are pointed out. Solving the problem is sure to become one step by which the role and the value of a new hemp are expanded.

by Yoshiyuki Akahoshi

See also:
See also: Hemp for fibre, food and fuel, Hemp in religion, as a "drug", as medicine.
See also: Interview: Dr. Yukihiro Shoyama (JIHA 4-2, December 1997)

to main page
Back to main page