Kagawa Governor Claims Gaming Ordinance Is Not Unconstitutional

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Ordinance mark first local government ordinance in Japan aimed at combating video game addiction

Kagawa governor Keizō Hamada said at a press conference on Monday that he did not believe that a recent ordinance restricting video game playing time among children was unconstitutional. His statement was in response to a lawsuit filed by a mother and her 17-year-old son against the Kagawa Prefecture in May, who claimed that the ordinance is "unconstitutional" and "violates fundamental human rights."

"It is my understanding that the ordinance does not violate the stipulations or the spirit of the law," he said. "Going forward, I believe that we will be investigating the proper way to respond to the lawsuit after confirming its contents."

Regarding the age of the high school student filing the lawsuit, Hamada said that the decision will not change because of the nature of the plaintiff, and the proper judgment will be taken in accordance with the law. He also said that efforts are currently being undertaken to reach an understanding.

The plaintiffs are seeking 1.54 million yen (approximately US$14,300) in damages. In July, they successfully reached their crowdfunding goal of 5 million yen for the lawsuit (approximately US$46,500).

The ordinance took effect on April 1, following discussions in the assembly and a majority vote. It aims to combat video game addiction, and marks the first time a local government in Japan has set guidelines restricting video game device and smartphone usage.

The guidelines restrict children under the age of 18 to 60 minutes of video game playing or smartphone usage per weekday and 90 minutes on weekends. It also forbids children under the age of 18 from using game devices after 10pm, or 9pm for children under the age of 12.

Although the prefecture has no plans to enforce penalties on households that do not comply with the ordinance and ask that households apply rules under their own discretion, the law has attracted opposition on democratic principles. The Kagawa Bar Association requested an immediate repeal of the ordinance in late May.

In June, a college student was arrested for sending a threatening message to a Kagawa prefectural assembly member.

Source: Setonaikai Broadcasting via Otakomu

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