Local statutes and ordinances in Japan can be things of wonder. There's even a website dedicated to some of the more unique examples: http://www.v-localgov.com/category/topics/ユニークな条例/
Here's an excerpt: a revised ordinance on water safety in Ibaraki Prefecture, which went into effect from July 1, 2019, stipulates that operators of small water craft, including rubber dinghies and others, if found to have consumed alcohol, will be subjected to fines of between 100,000 to 500,000 yen.
Nikkan Gendai (Oct 27) has found another doozy. It seems that the assembly of Neyagawa, a city of 236,000 in northeastern Osaka Prefecture, has passed an ordinance aimed at protecting children from passive smokers in their own homes. Named "The ordinance to prohibit passive smoking for the sake of children's health and growth," it went into effect on the first day of October.
This is the second ordinance designed to protect against passive smoking, the first having gone into effect in Tokyo when joint efforts by the Tokyo First Party and Komeito rammed rammed through a statute in the autumn of 2017. The ordinance, titled "Ordinance for protecting of children from passive smoke," went into effect the following April.
From the standpoint of the legal wording, the article sees two articles as particularly problematic.
Article 6, section 2 states "Smoking must be abstained from when in the same room as a child." And Article 7 states, "Smoking must be abstained from when riding together with a child in a motor vehicle."
In other words, the ordinance is aimed at controlling activities of people in their own private spaces. Prior to the passing of the ordinance, the Neyagawa assembly solicited comments from the public. The respondents voiced the opinion that it was "overdoing it" to attempt to limit the activities in private places.
An employee of the city explained its thinking like this: "In homes or other places where children have no means of avoiding long-term exposure secondary smoke, or inside cars where exposure to smoke can be dense, since it is difficult to protect children from the damaging effects of smoke, we enacted a rule to make it obligatory for adults to make an effort to do so."
In other words, rather than place limits on personal rights, the law is intended to give priority to protecting children's health.
Actually, points out Nikkan Gendai, Japan has a national law, which according to its present way of thinking feels it is undesirable to place constraints on people in their homes or vehicles. But if the ordinances in Tokyo and Neyagawa catch on in other places, it's possible this will change.
A journalist familiar with the issue is concerned that similar ordinances in the future might be expanded to prohibit other types of behavior beyond tobacco. "We might very well find ourselves immersed in a kanshi shakai (society where citizens’ activities are constantly monitored).
Nor are cigarettes the only target. Kagawa Prefecture already has an ordinance aimed at safeguarding citizens from internet game addiction. Do people really need big government to act on their behalf? It seems that that's the direction Japan is headed.© Japan Today