Street solicitation to be banned in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward from September

Kyodo

Shinjuku Ward in Tokyo, home to one of the country’s largest nightlife districts, is set to ban any kind of soliciting in the street not only for sex clubs but also karaoke parlors, pubs and bars from September.

The move comes in the wake of growing incidents involving trouble with touts in the ward, particularly in the Kabukicho area, ward officials said.

A metropolitan ordinance already bans aggressive solicitation such as pulling at the clothing of passersby, but the ward’s new ordinance, set to be enforced Sept. 1, will ban any kind of street solicitation.

Although the ordinance carries no penalty, with violators to be given “direction” from neighborhood wardens, it is only the first step and the ward will “consider adding a punitive clause if it proves to have no effect,” a ward official said.

Ichiro Katahira, secretary general of a shopping district promotion association near Kabukicho whose members patrol the area, said the ordinance will support their efforts to warn visitors about touts and eventually eliminate solicitation-related trouble.

The number of such incidents reported to police in the ward rose to 268 in the January-September period last year from 164 the year before, according to the ward office.

A similar ordinance put in place in April last year by Toshima Ward, also in Tokyo, was the nation’s first. Like the Shinjuku ordinance, it carried no penalty but it is believed to have helped reduce the number of touts, a ward official said.