• Kyodo, Staff Report

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As Japan’s elderly population grows, some day-care centers are offering users pachinko, card games and other forms of entertainment as a pastime — as if they are playing at casinos.

But Kobe has taken action against those day-care businesses, saying addictions to such activities will undermine efforts to foster self-reliance on the part of the elderly.

On Thursday, the Kobe Municipal Assembly unanimously adopted a local ordinance as the country’s first municipality to ban day-care centers operating under the public nursing-care insurance system from letting elderly people play such games.

Under the ordinance, day-care centers cannot regularly provide activities such as pachinko and mah-jongg that may “stir up the passion for gambling.”

Also to be banned include games using “pseudo currencies,” such as casino chips.

Meanwhile, those businesses will be banned from running advertisements on these activities to draw customers, according to the ordinance.

Kobe city officials said day-care centers pitching these “casino type” activities are springing up nationwide, running counter to the spirit of the public nursing-care insurance system, which is partly funded by taxpayers’ money.

Although there is currently no such facility in Kobe, some operators are planning to open some in the near future, prompting the city to take regulatory steps, the officials said.

Hyogo Prefecture also plans a similar ordinance next month, prefectural officials said.

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