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International News
Japan Studies Alcohol Use
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 23 page 12-12

The Japanese government is interviewing 3,500 adults in the first nationwide study into the hazards of excessive drinking. The interviews are due to be completed by next March. "People who repeatedly drive drunk are likely to be alcoholics," said the head of the research team, Susumu Higuchi, M.D., who is director of clinical studies at the government-run Kurihama Hospital.

"Education and treatment are necessary instead of just criminal penalties," Higuchi said. "But in Japan, the measures are still inadequate."

"I believe this survey will show the public the bad side of alcohol and also [provide] the basic data for policymaking," he added.

A national survey conducted by the Health Ministry in 2001 estimated there were more than 2 million alcoholics in Japan. In the same year, some 13,000 people were taken to hospitals in ambulances for severe drunkenness. And in recent years, drunken driving has been blamed for about 10 percent of Japan’s road fatalities.

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