Commentary: Limits on video gaming the heart of a growing controversy in Japan

Commentary: Limits on video gaming the heart of a growing controversy in Japan

Channel NewsAsia - Commentary·2020-05-21 06:12

Some Japanese are challenging limits on screen-time, with profound implications for the country, says the Financial Times' Leo Lewis.

TOKYO: The great charm of Kagawa prefecture is that nothing much happens there.

It has, glacially, perfected the udon noodle; its Ritsurin landscaped gardens have been stunning — but immobile — for nearly 400 years; in 2013 a Boeing 787 safely made an emergency landing at the main airport.

An unlikely place, therefore, wilfully to plunge itself in to three seething global debates on game addiction, parental responsibility and the rights of the individual.

But then, it’s always the quiet ones.


Although the whole thing is now tightly bound up with the pandemic and the great screen-time conundrum afflicting households everywhere, Kagawa’s is a pre-coronavirus imbroglio.

It started with Ichiro Oyama, the former chairman of the prefectural assembly, and his daughter, whom he had always thought spent too much time shut up in her room with games when she was younger.

For many parents, the solution might be a stern word, a confiscation of gadgets or a threat of disinheritance. Mr Oyama opted instead to whip greying local parliamentarians into a frenzy of proscription, enter a new realm of state interference in family life and enact a draconian ordinance.


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