Japan is one of the most smoking-friendly countries in the world—and for now, it will stay that way.
A key anticancer bill was approved by the country’s cabinet without provisions to tighten restrictions on smoking, specifically secondhand smoking. The controlling Liberal Democratic Party is said to have strongly opposed the measure, specifically arguing that small restaurants and bars should be exempt. Health advocates had hoped that Japan would do something to limit passive smoking, i.e. secondhand smoke.
Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry estimated that 15,000 people die annually because of being exposed to secondhand smoke.
The country has come under increase pressure to limit smoking ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japan’s smoking culture is surprising to many who have not visited the country. Smoking was still allowed in some McDonald’s locations in Japan until 2014 when the company opted to go smoke-free.