One year after Kagawa capped kids’ playtime, will Tokyo follow suit?

Last spring, politicians in Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture enacted the Ordinance for Measures Against Internet and Game Addiction, which prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from playing video games for more than 60 minutes a day during the week, or more than 90 minutes a day on weekends. Ostensibly, this is to protect them from interactive electronic entertainment turning their young minds to mush. Although the ordinance currently has no penalty built into it, kids who go over their daily limits are technically violating the law. Also banned: high school students using smartphones for non-studying purposes after 10 p.m., and younger users after 9.

Kagawa is the first place in Japan to enact such a law, but with less than a million residents in the prefecture, the ordinance affects only a small slice of Japan’s population. However, on Wednesday Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was asked if she has plans to place a legal video gaming time limit on kids living in the capital.

The question was posed on Wednesday’s plenary session of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, and Koike responded with

“In regard to countermeasures against video gaming and Internet addiction, I believe it is important for the city to calmly assess available information. I am not considering instituting a uniform time limit that has no scientific basis.”

▼ Koike during the plenary session

Koike’s words will come as a relief to Tokyo’s game-loving minors, especially since when Kagawa enacted its ordinance last spring, Koike said would “be watching what sort of effects it produces.” Apparently, though, her observations so far have led her to believe that a blanket limit on playing time or prohibited time blocks isn’t something society needs.

That’s not to say that Koike entirely dismisses that excessive gaming or Internet use can have negative effects on young people, and she said she would like to offer resources, such as developmental courses and counseling services, to help parents of children who may be spending more time with such hobbies than they should. However, in asserting that she wants to develop such resources while “respecting the independent autonomy of parents and their guardians,” she made clear her stance that how much gaming/net browsing is excessive is something that varies from individua to individual, and that figuring out how much is allowable is among the freedom, and responsibilities, of families themselves.

Source: Twitter/@fujiiakiratokyo via Hachima Kiko, Tokyo Metropolitan Government via IT Media
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