Published on 20th March 2008 by

April 1996
Slumped on the floor is a young woman. Not so long ago she tried to throw herself under a car. Now she faces hours of captivity in a padded cell. Her problem is drug abuse. Restless multitudes in Japan are addicted to amphetamines which dates back to World War II when authorities supplied soldiers, factory workers and nurses with stimulants to stretch the nation’s fighting capacity. Today the government is far from drug friendly. ‘Speed’ addicts are dealt with in two ways: they are either thrown into prison or into psychiatric hospitals. Tsuneo Kondo and Father Roy Assenheimer, reformed addicts have set up a refuge in a Tokyo back alley which has grown into a national self-help movement. The only rules are compulsory attendance at three daily meetings. But at the police drug enforcement division, Hiroto Yamazaki talks tough, “I do not care about rehabilitation because I see drug abusers as criminals.” In prison, addicts receive an overdose of discipline, in hospital they are heavily sedated and charged with electric shocks. Not surprisingly, Kondo worries that “without support they will die.”

Produced by ABC Australia
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures

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