Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jail in Japan

A couple of Okinawa ALT's (English teachers) were arrested Friday for drug importation. Though the details were slim at first (and still are), I was glad to hear via an official email sent out by our lead JETs in Naha. Because that night it was the lead story on Okinawan news, and on the front page of the Okinawan newspaper Saturday morning. Apparently the two girls ordered a drug called 'mind candy' from the U.K. The pill has a substance illegal in both the U.S. and Japan. Authorities intercepted the package in Tokyo, then passed along the information to the Okinawan police.

I've been thinking about it all weekend - how you can be going about your life, making plans, getting annoyed at little things, and suddenly it's all turned upside down. It seems that these girls' (one of whom is my friend, and the person I stay[ed] with when I go to Naha) Okinawan lives are probably over. They've apparently admitted to ordering the pills, but 'denied' guilt by saying they didn't know they were illegal. I believe them, but that doesn't appease the laws.

I've also concluded that I really need to thank my parents and my upbringing - especially my choice in friends - for never getting me involved in drugs. For various reasons I've mostly figured out in adulthood, drugs don't mesh with my lifestyle (health and athletics). But they are also a terrible thing to mess with when you're in a foreign country. Here, when you're under contract, and you go to jail, you lose not only your job, but also your life. You lose your friends, your apartment/utilities/cell phone contracts, and any belongings you can't fit quickly into two suitcases, if you're even that lucky. Plus you might get jail time. I see it as a much bigger loss than getting busted in the U.S.

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