Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture government in the Kansai region passed a law that strives to limit the amount of gaming children under 18 years old can enjoy in a day. It is the first law of this sort in Japan. It’s supposedly meant to stop kids from becoming addicted to the internet and video games, echoing moves that China has put into place via Tencent and Bilibili. [Thanks, NHK!]
While the bill was proposed several months before, imposing stricter measures, it was rebuked and returned earlier this month revised so that it was less strict. Effectively, minors are only allowed to play 60 minutes of video games per weekday (90 mins on weekends) and they should only be allowed to use their smartphones until 10pm, under this new law.
But just how is this new law going to be enforced? It turns out that the onus of enforcement will be left to parents to figure out themselves. Some of the detractors during the Prefecture council meeting pointed this out, saying that this law is only going to isolate families who actually do need help with their child being addicted to games.
Meanwhile, the pro-limitation side cited that they had collected public comments, which mostly comprised of support for the bill. However, only a general summary of the public comments was presented, and the opinions themselves were not presented. (It was only shown after the general council meeting, only to those involved) As such, some councilmen left as they determined they couldn’t support or oppose the bill, which swayed the balance towards the side supporting the bill, thereby passing the bill into law.
According to a professor from Kagawa University’s Faculty of Law, the implementation of the law might be troublesome, as the process wasn’t transparent, which may cause the citizens of Kagawa to become distrustful of it. Additionally, the public comments were presented in a ‘summary’ format as if it was a simple ‘for or against’ vote, which betrays the purpose of collecting public comments in order to improve the bills.
The new Kagawa law goes into effect on April 1, 2020.