Are the laws in Japan on pot as severe as in the United States?
The Cannabis Control Law
Thirty years later Japan still pursues an intolerant policy on marijuana. Remember Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and Nagano olympic gold medal winner Ross Rebagliati? Anyone caught with marijuana in Japan is in big trouble. Marijuana use is viewed almost as bad as heroin use is in many western countries. Anyone caught with any amount of marijuana will be arrested. Suspects can be detained for several weeks before they need to be charged with a crime. Evidence obtained through illegal means (such as illegal searches) is routinely admitted in court. Some 98% of all people charged with a crime are convicted by Japanese courts.
People go to jail for possessing less than one gram of hemp and they face many social penalties too (loss of job, expulsion from schools, etc.). Theoretically you can go to prison for five years for a single joint. Larger quantities, cultivation or smuggling will lead to prison sentences of up to seven years. Smugglers caught with a few hundred grams to a few kg of cannabis are routinely sent to prison for 3-4 years. Discipline in Japanese prisons is extremely strict and conditions are harsh.