Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward Approves Year-round Ban on Street Drinking; Revised Ordinance Imposes No Penalties on Violators

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Oct. 28, 2023

A revised ordinance that imposes a year-round ban on nighttime street drinking in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward was unanimously approved by the local assembly on Monday. The ordinance was revised to address the increasing number of problems such as littering and excessive noise caused by people drinking on the streets.

The revised ordinance, which takes effect on Oct. 1, does not impose penalties for violators.

The current ban prohibits outdoor alcohol consumption in certain ward areas during the time around Halloween and the New Year’s Day. The revised ordinance not only extends the ban year-round but expands it to include the area around the Shibuya ward office and Miyashita Park. The Maruyama-cho area, home to many night clubs, in addition to the north side of Shibuya Station that includes the busy Shibuya Center-gai street will also be in the area of enforcement.

The prohibition will be imposed between 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., with security guards patrolling the areas for the 11-hour period every day.

The ban is in response to issues including when Shibuya Ward was thrown into a state of disturbance as drunken young people toppled a mini truck and were subsequently arrested on Halloween in the autumn of 2018.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

In June 2019, Shibuya Ward established the current ordinance prohibiting alcohol consumption on the streets during specific times and in certain areas. However, people who were unable to drink alcohol at bars or restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic turned to drinking on the streets. Lately, many foreign tourists influenced by social media are following the drinking trend in the ward and are causing problems near Shibuya Station, such as obstructing traffic, littering and excessive noise.

The average daily number of people who were warned for drinking on Center-gai on Fridays, Saturdays and days before holidays increased from 107.5 in March to 158.4 in April, according to a survey conducted by the ward office. Foreigners accounted for over 70% of the total.

It is unusual for street drinking to be banned for an indefinite period in central Tokyo, and the Shibuya ward office will try to let the public know about the ban going forward.

Surrounding municipalities are closely watching the effects of the revised ordinance. In Shinjuku Ward, next to Shibuya, a proposal to establish an ordinance that bans street drinking only during around Halloween in areas near Shinjuku Station was submitted to the ward assembly earlier this month.