Current Publications

The Fight Against Drug Trafficking in East Asia: A Comparison of Government Policies Designed to Combat Drug Trafficking in China, Japan and the Philippines

Alejandra Cervantes Nieto

Drug trafficking in East Asia has been on the agenda of policy makers and international organisations since the rise of synthetic stimulants and heroin after the end of the Cold War. This master thesis focused on drug trafficking from a comparative viewpoint, analysing and contrasting the policies designed to combat it. Comparing national drug policies opens the possibility to design competitive strategies both nationally and regionally, aimed at reducing drug trade in East Asia. Breaking down the drug policies into different components provides an opportunity to understand the rationale behind them and find areas where countries can work together to fight against drugs more effectively.
The thesis focused on the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of the Philippines and Japan, which are three countries differently affected by drug trafficking. China is a main producer of methamphetamine and chemical precursors. The Philippines, a country implementing one of the toughest approaches towards drug trafficking, is a major consumer of Crystal Meth. Japan, a highly developed country with a very restrictive approach to drug use, is still a persistent consumer of synthetic stimulants. An analytical framework allowed the review of the anti-drug policies on a national and international level. The evidence showed that the countries have a similar prohibitionist approach towards illicit drugs, focusing their efforts on supply-reduction strategies, and imposing heavy sanctions on drug traffickers and users. Furthermore, the research showed discrepancies between existing legislation on drugs and law enforcement, with authorities overstepping Boundaries and violating the rights of suspected law-offenders. The findings serve as a basis for future research on illicit drugs in East Asia and on how to design a more comprehensive policy to combat drug trafficking.

Department of East Asian Studies
No. of pages
Publication date
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
506005 Research policy, 506010 Policy analysis
Portal url