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Professor in western Japan allegedly made students produce MDMA

This file photo shows tablets of the synthetic drug MDMA confiscated at Narita airport near Tokyo in 2004. (Kyodo)

MATSUYAMA(Kyodo) -- A pharmaceutical science professor at a university in western Japan was referred to prosecutors Tuesday for allegedly making his students produce synthetic drug MDMA without a permit, investigative sources said.

Tatsunori Iwamura, 61, of Matsuyama University in Ehime Prefecture, admitted to the allegation, telling investigators that he did it in order to help his students' "learning."

According to the sources, Iwamura allegedly instructed students to produce MDMA in 2013, despite him not being licensed to produce the drug for academic purposes.

The regional drug enforcement authority sent to prosecutors investigative papers on Iwamura as well as on several former students who were involved in the production of MDMA under his instructions.

The MDMA they produced has not been found, but a trace of another drug was discovered in his laboratory, according to the sources.

MDMA is often a constituent ingredient in the recreational drug commonly known as ecstasy.

"We apologize from the bottom of our heart for causing major trouble for students and their parents," said Tatsuya Mizogami, president of the university.

He also said the university will consider taking measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again and that it will take disciplinary action on Iwamura in accordance with the outcome of the investigation.

The investigation started following a tip-off from an outsider. The drug enforcement officers at the health ministry's regional bureau searched Iwamura's home and lab, while also questioning the professor since January.

Based on the Japanese narcotics control law, which Iwamura allegedly violated, a researcher must obtain a license issued by the prefectural government hosting the research lab to make narcotics for academic research.

According to the sources, Iwamura had obtained a license from a prefecture other than Ehime, but it had expired.

Iwamura, as professor of the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Matsuyama University, has been conducting research on what are called dangerous drugs in Japan, defined as those containing chemical agents that can cause hallucinations or have a stimulant effect, according to the sources.

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