Sep 01, 2016

    553 teens in Tokyo detained over Pokemon


    ABOUT a month after the Japanese release of the Pokemon Go smartphone game app, 553 minors had been taken into protective custody in Tokyo by the Metropolitan Police Department, according to investigative sources.

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

    According to police, 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 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 11pm and 4am, defined as "the middle of the night" by a metropolitan ordinance.

    Reflecting a calming of the Pokemon Go boom, the number of minors taken into protective custody was just 104 during the four weeks from Aug 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.

    When minors taken into protective custody are categorised 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 a 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."

    Apart from minors in protective custody, there was also a case of a student who shoplifted a battery charger at a convenience store after his smartphone's battery ran out of juice while playing the game.

    In another case, a boy stole a bicycle while searching for Pokemon with friends.