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Shibuya assembly bans drinking near station on Halloween, New Year’s

TOKYO (TR) – The Shibuya Ward Assembly on Wednesday approved an ordinance that bans alcohol consumption near JR Shibuya Station around Halloween and New Year events, a move intended to reduce a recent surge in incidents during those periods, reports the Sankei Shimbun (June 19).

The ban will be in place for outdoor areas near JR Shibuya Station, including in and around the famous “Scramble Crossing,” the Shibuya Center-gai shopping street, the iconic Shibuya 109 building and neighboring parks, from the weekend before Halloween until November 1. It will also be in effect for New Year’s Eve.

Restaurants in the area will also be asked to halt sales of alcohol. The use of speaker systems to loudly broadcast music and the climbing of utility poles will also be prohibited.

“We want to fulfill our duty as a ward by taking responsibility for providing a balance between nightlife fun and safety and security,” said Ken Hasebe, the Shibuya Ward mayor.

However, violators of the ban, which goes into force on Thursday, will not face a penalty. “Prior knowledge is more important than a penalty,” the ward said.

near JR Shibuya Station
Tens of thousands of revelers regularly gather near JR Shibuya Station around Halloween (Twitter)

Scramble Crossing

Over roughly the past decade, hundreds of thousands of young persons in costume have gathered annually around Halloween near the Scramble Crossing. However, last year’s celebrations were notable for the large number of incidents that took place.

From the night of October 31 until the morning of November 1, police arrested 13 persons for a variety of crimes, including groping and assault.

Police later said that an American rugby player arrested over the alleged assault a woman was drunk at the time of the incident.

In a much publicized incident, a dozen or so members of a mob overturned and jumped upon a light truck near the Scramble Crossing early on October 28. Police later arrested four persons on suspicion of causing property damage.

As well, ward officials said that they received a number of complaints related to disturbances caused by revelers who had been drinking.

Later, a panel was set up by Shibuya Ward to assess the incidents. In May, the panel issued a report that recommended certain measures be taken.