The Kagawa Prefecture in Japan has a unique law in the country: a local ordinance limiting video game playing for underage residents. The ordinance was designed as a means to prevent video game addiction in young people. In September 2020, a few months after the ordinance began, a high school student and his mom put forward a lawsuit against it.
The lawsuit argued that the ordinance violated their right to self-determination, and asked for 1.6 million yen (about $11,550) in damages for mental distress, saying this hurt their right to liberty and pursuit of happiness. The right to liberty and pursuit of happiness is in Article 13 of Japan’s Constitution.
The lawsuit also argued that the ordinance was not based on science. The prefectural government disagreed on this angle, and pointed to their own scientific evidence, namely the fact that “gaming disorder” is now a recognized syndrome.
The lawsuit went to court, and this week the Takamatsu District Court upheld that the local ordinance is constitutional.
This has to do with the unique way the ordinance is set up. It’s really more of a suggestion than a law. This is because it gives advice rather than setting rules. It advises parents, for instance, that they might want to limit their children’s video game playing to one hour a day on school days, and a hour and a half a day on their days off.
What happens if parents ignore this and let their kids play hours and hours of video games each day? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. There is no penalty, so no one is going to get arrested or fined.
Because of this, the court said that the ordinance does not stop citizens from self-determination, as they can just ignore the ordinance if they wish. The plaintiff had tried to withdraw the lawsuit earlier, perhaps foreseeing this outcome, but was unable to do so.
Source: The Mainichi
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.