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60 minutes: Young gamers in Japan face cap on playtime

Kagawa Prefecture takes aim at addiction with daily limit

The World Health Organization recognized "gaming disorder" as a type of addiction last year. (Photo by Shogo Matsuda)

TAKAMATSU, Japan -- A prefecture in southwestern Japan will seek to limit kids to an hour of video games a day under a new ordinance set to take effect April 1, amid growing alarm about the risk of addiction.

The measure enacted this week by Kagawa Prefecture, the first of its kind in the country, sets "targets" of 60 minutes per day on weekdays and 90 minutes on weekends and holidays for all children under 18. It also recommends smartphone curfews of 9 p.m. through middle school and 10 p.m. thereafter.

The ordinance urges households to use the measure as a reference when setting their own rules. It does not include any punishment for violators.

"We'll work to prevent addiction in keeping with this ordinance," said Kagawa Gov. Keizo Hamada.

The one-hour figure comes from a nationwide study by the Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center, which found a significant drop in grades among students who spent more than an hour per school day playing games.

The World Health Organization officially recognized "gaming disorder" as a type of addiction last year.

A committee of the prefectural assembly had discussed the measure since last fall. "Countermeasures against addiction should be done at the national level, but hopefully this will spark discussion in various places," said assembly Chairman Ichiro Oyama, who headed the committee.

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