Japan court rules ordinance limiting computer-game play constitutional

A court in western Japan has dismissed a suit claiming that a prefectural ordinance restricting computer-game use infringes upon players' constitutional rights.

In 2020, Kagawa Prefecture became the first jurisdiction in the country to set out legal guidelines with the aim of tackling computer-game and internet addiction.

The prefecture restricts game access to an hour on weekdays for players younger than 18 and lays out other limitations, urging parents to set rules in line with these strictures.

In the year the ordinance was enacted, a man who was in high school at the time and his mother filed a lawsuit, claiming that players should be allowed to set their own limits.
The suit argued that the ordinance violated the constitutionally guaranteed right to self-determination and privacy.

At the Takamatsu District Court on Tuesday, presiding judge Amano Satoko pointed out that excessive game playing has been cited as a cause of social maladjustment. She said that young people are particularly susceptible to overuse of such games, describing the prefecture's stance as reasonable.

The judge ruled the ordinance constitutional, noting that even if it is regarded as restricting self-determination, the imposition is the minimum possible and no penalties are attached.