3-year-old in western Japan commended for finding banned opium poppy

A three-year-old boy in Tokushima City, western Japan, has been honored for finding a banned opium poppy in his neighborhood.

Kawamura Yuki found a plant with blooming purple flowers in an open area near his home while walking with his mother in mid-April.

The mother looked it up on her smartphone and found out that the plant is an opium poppy called "atsumigeshi" which is an ingredient for making opium.

She reported the finding to the police as she learned that cultivation or possession of the poppy is banned in Japan.

In a ceremony held at a local police station, the police chief asked Yuki to keep his mind strong and moral, and help maintain the peace of the local community.

Yuki reportedly loves plants and observes flowers blooming in the garden of his grandparents' house and a park almost every day.

He does some research in botanical books whenever he comes across a plant that he has never seen before.

After the ceremony, Yuki, wearing a police uniform made for children, was given a ride on a patrol vehicle and a motorcycle. The boy smiled while trying to sound a siren and speak to others through a radio device.

Yuki said that he thinks people should not touch atsumigeshi when they find it.

His mother Haruka said that his interest in plants has led to this commendation. She said she wants her son to continue to explore what he likes.

A curator at a local museum says it is hard to exterminate atsumigeshi as it has a strong reproductive system and diffuses a large number of tiny seeds.

More than 10,450 stalks of banned opium poppy, including atsumigeshi, were removed across Tokushima Prefecture last year.