Photo/IllutrationCrowds of people including many dressed in Halloween costumes pack the area near Shibuya Station in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Oct. 31, 2018, while police officers stand on alert. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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To put a cork in vandalistic revelry, Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward is expected to prohibit visitors from drinking alcohol along the roads and squares surrounding Shibuya Station at Halloween and on New Year's Eve.

The ward is expected to draft an ordinance that will be submitted to the ward assembly in June, which would be in effect for Halloween in October.

Ward officials have been increasingly concerned as many drunken revelers are causing vandalism at Halloween.

On Oct. 31 last year, a group of drunken men overturned a small truck on the popular Shibuya Center-gai entertainment street, despite the call in advance for convenience stores in the area to refrain from selling alcohol.

Four people who were arrested and charged with destruction of property were among more than 20 people arrested in the Shibuya district during the drunken carousing.

“Halloween (in the district) has turned into a wild affair instead of just an event,” Shibuya Ward Mayor Ken Hasebe said the day after Halloween.

The mayor said he was considering "switching the Halloween gathering from a free event to charging for admission, or directing people to congregate in Yoyogi Park, one of the largest parks in Tokyo."

The ward government set up a corrective committee for Halloween consisting of people from local commercial districts and tourism associations in February.

They are expected to submit an interim report on May 15 that will call for prohibiting drinking alcohol on the streets. The ward government will submit a bill to the assembly after it receives the report.

The bill will likely contain prohibitions on people from drinking alcohol on roads or parks around Shibuya Station, mainly along the Center-gai street on Halloween, as well as before and after the New Year’s Eve countdown. Details of the ordinance such as punishment for violators will also be discussed as well.

Shinichi Abe, 59, an executive of the promotion association of the Shibuya Dogenzaka shopping district and the third-generation owner of a century-old eel restaurant, welcomed the new ordinance saying, “It is a natural matter of course to set up the rule. I want people to stop drinking alcohol outdoors.”

Abe’s restaurant is located about 400 meters from the district’s iconic scramble crossing in front of the station. He complained that on Halloween every year some passers-by urinate on the shutters or walls of his eatery, and others do drunken mischief including tossing glass bottles onto the ground to watch them break.

Abe said that other shop owners suffer damage to their shutters almost every year. One owner was told by a representative of his insurance company that, “We cannot cover those kinds of damages anymore.”

Therefore, he had no choice but to pay for the shutter repairs out of his own pocket.

“We are questioning whether the ordinance will be effective without any punishment for violators,” Abe said.

Others who frequent the area around Shibuya Station to join the revelers disagree with the possible ban.

“We want a place to frolic," said a 26-year-old male job-hopper who lives in Taito Ward. "It should be permissible to drink alcohol outdoors.”

The man has twice joined the Halloween “party” around the Shibuya Station area with his friends. He said he and his friends were “quietly drinking canned beers.”

“It is too harsh to prohibit people who drink without causing any inconveniences, just because of the people (who cause trouble),” he added.

However, a 22-year-old male senior student of St. Andrew's University in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, who was visiting Shibuya on a job search, said, “It is inevitable that a rule be set up because it is dangerous if people damage shops or cars when they get out of control.”

The young man added that he wanted to visit Shibuya on Halloween to see people in costumes if he finds a job in the capital.

“I can enjoy the festival even though I do not drink alcohol. I want to enjoy Halloween in a secure environment,” he added.

If passed, Shibuya would follow other local governments that have enforced bans on drinking alcohol in public areas. The municipal governments of Zushi and Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture have passed ordinances prohibiting people from drinking alcohol on the beaches during the official season for swimming in the sea.

(This article was written by Erina Ito and Yosuke Watanabe.)