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Protective custody for 553 Japanese minors in ‘Pokemon Go’ cases

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    The Japan News/Asia News Network

Tokyo   /   Wed, August 31, 2016   /  02:23 pm
Protective custody for 553 Japanese minors in ‘Pokemon Go’ cases Women play "Pokemon Go" in front of a McDonald's restaurant in Tokyo, Friday, July 22, 2016. (AP/Koji Sasahara)

About a month after the Japan release of the “Pokemon Go” smartphone game app, 553 minors had been taken into protective custody in Tokyo by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in relation to the game, according to investigative sources. 

The police intend to continue to patrol the busy streets in September after school summer vacations end, the sources said.

According to MPD officials, the number of children who play “Pokemon Go” late at night in parks and on busy streets in central Tokyo has rapidly increased since the game app became available on July 22. Police took 449 minors into protective custody by the end of the month for misconduct such as loitering between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m, defined as “the middle of the night” by a metropolitan ordinance.  

(Read also: Pokemon Go cheaters to face permanent bans)

Reflecting a calming of the “Pokemon Go” boom, the number of minors taken into protective custody was just 104 during the four weeks from August 1 to 28, the sources said.

However, notable recent cases include ones in which high school students gather in groups at locations that have been identified online as places where rare Pokemon appear, and continue to play the game deep into the night. 

People play “Pokemon Go” at Kinshi Park in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, on July 23.(The Yomiuri Shimbun via The Japan News/-)

When minors taken into protective custody are categorized by age, the number of 17-year-olds ranks first at 195, followed by 16-year-olds at 134 and 15-year-olds at 106. 

The number of minors taken into protective custody for loitering late at night during summer vacation ranges between 3,000 and 4,000 in ordinary years. But, an investigative source said, “As the ‘Pokemon Go’ release overlapped with summer vacations, there is a risk that the number of minors under protective custody could increase further.”

(Read also: Pokemon, just go: France doesn't want creatures in school)

Apart from minors in protective custody, there was a case in which a middle school student who had used up his own smartphone battery while playing the game shoplifted a battery charger at a convenience store, and another case in which a boy stole a bicycle while searching for Pokemon with friends. Accidents related to “Pokemon Go” have occurred nationwide. In Tokushima, a light van driven by a man playing the game hit two pedestrians on the night of August 23, leading to the death of one person and seriously injuring the other. 

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