Year-Round Ban On Drinking Near Tokyo’s Shibuya Station Welcomed; Residents, Shop Owners Look Forward To Decreased Trash, Inconvenience

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People are seen drinking on the street in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on Monday evening.

People living and working around JR Shibuya Station in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, are welcoming the revision of local ordinance to prohibit drinking in streets and parks near the station throughout the year, starting this October.

They have been troubled by various drinking-related problems around the station, such as illegal garbage dumping and blocking of traffic.

Tatsuji Suzuki, the head of the promotion association for the Shibuya Center-Gai shopping and dining area, has big expectations for the change: “[The revision] is a big step forward to get rid of drinking on the streets that has become a chronic problem.”

According to Suzuki, 60, drinking in public has markedly increased since around May last year, when COVID-19 was downgraded to Category V under the Infectious Diseases Law. Many, mostly young, people started drinking outdoors particularly on weekend nights. But drinking on the streets is currently prohibited only during specific periods, such as during Halloween, so all he has been able to do other times was to appeal to the consciences of the street drinkers.

Suzuki expects the revision to give him a good opportunity to ask businesses selling alcohol to tell customers about the all-year ban on drinking on the streets.

“I hope everyone in town will work together to raise awareness,” he said.

A 41-year-old owner of a cafe in the neighborhood is also happy with the upcoming change.

“I’m all for the year-round ban on drinking [on the streets],” he said, adding that when he helps clean the streets each week, he finds them strewn with empty cans and broken bottles. Sometimes fixtures of his cafe are damaged.

The amended ordinance makes no provision for punishing offenders.

“To be honest, I hope some punishment will be imposed on them,” he said.

Young people were seen drinking on the streets on Monday as well.

“I just follow the rules. If they say not to drink then I won’t,” a 20-year-old part-time worker from Tokyo said matter-of-factly.

“I think you can’t really do anything about the Halloween drinking ban, but I think a year-round ban is going too far. It’s too bad,” said a 34-year-old company employee from Toda, Saitama Prefecture.