Members of a special committee of the Kagawa Prefectural Assembly held a meeting on Jan 10. The legislators gathered to formally announce their draft of the newest piece of codified law they believe their citizens need: a government-set limit on the amount of time kids are legally allowed to spend playing video games.
The proposed ordinance would cap the amount of time children high-school age or younger can play games each day, and thus be applicable to all residents of the prefecture 17 or younger, as well as those who won’t graduate until after they turn 18. Under the law, children would be allowed to play video games for only one hour a day on weekdays, and no more than 90 minutes on weekends and holidays. The committee cites a need for government countermeasures against video game and internet addiction as the driving force behind its proposal.
Japan has an unusual love/hate relationship with video games. On one hand, they’re a high-profile, much-loved part of the entertainment landscape, with Tokyo boasting Final Fantasy restaurants and a brand-new Nintendo specialty shop in showcase neighborhood Shibuya. Globally successful video game companies are so respected that when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympics, as part of the passing of the baton to the 2020 Tokyo Games, he did so while cosplaying as Super Mario.
▼ Nintendo Tokyo, the company’s specialty shop in Shibuya
But on the other hand, video gaming has, for decades, been one of the primary things Japanese parents fret are threatening to ruin their children’s futures. One of the most common concerns PTA groups voice is that kids with too much free time will waste it in arcades, and they’re not worried about kids getting into fights, being abducted, or sucking down second-hand smoke while they’re there, but instead have a nebulous but certain impression that spending time jiggling a joystick and slapping buttons will turn young minds to mush.
In addition to limiting how much time children can spend playing video games each day, the proposed ordinance also sets a limit on when kids are allowed to play video games. High school kids have to put down their controllers by 10 p.m., while younger kids have to stop playing by 9.
The proposal makes no mention of what kids are supposed to do instead of playing games, but zoning out on the couch with a fluffy rom-com movie, eating a bag of potato chips while watching professional sports on TV, or leafing through celebrity gossip magazines, are all options unrestricted by the ordinance, and thus apparently considered a more constructive use of children’s free time.
If ratified, the proposal would be the first such ban in Japan. While there are currently no penalties attached to kids going over the daily limits, the committee says it is now gathering public opinion and may adjust the proposal before it is introduced at the assembly’s regular plenary session next month.
Source: NHK News Web via Otakomu
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