National

Tokyo police arrest 13 in Shibuya after Halloween mayhem

Kyodo

Police arrested 13 people between Wednesday and Thursday in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward for alleged groping, assault and theft as a massive crowd of Halloween revelers swamped the district.

The 13 arrested were men ranging from their teens to their 40s, the police said.

Several hundred police officers were dispatched to the area to control the crowd, including some special officers dubbed “DJ police,” who aim to marshal crowds in a light-hearted manner.

Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe told reporters Thursday morning that the ward may have to consider making Halloween a paid event at a place like Yoyogi Park from next year.

“There are many people who behave well and have fun. But it turned out to be a regrettable Halloween because of a small number of people,” he said.

On Wednesday night the famous scramble crossing and shopping district near Shibuya Station were packed with people dressed in elaborate costumes, including witches, zombies and characters from popular video games.

The area was left scattered with garbage Thursday morning that young volunteers helped clean up.

Manami Suzuki, a 27-year-old nail artist clad in a colorful costume, was picking up garbage with a bag she brought from home, as she knew the trash would build up during Halloween.

“I did it because I want to have fun at Halloween next year and beyond,” she said.

A 28-year-old man also bought a garbage bag and joined the cleanup effort, even though he said he hated Halloween.

“I wanted to help those picking up the garbage,” he said.

To avoid trouble, some store owners closed their shops earlier than normal.

“Every year, a huge number of people congregate in front of our store. I had no option but to close it for security reasons,” said a store manager who pulled down the shutters of his establishment at 5 p.m.

Toshiyuki Ono, who heads a Shibuya shop owners’ association, said the Halloween celebrations have descended into something akin to a “riot.”

“I fear (Shibuya) will be labeled a scary place. I want (Halloween street parties) to be banned next year,” Ono said.

Most people, however, appeared to simply enjoy the ever-growing annual gathering.

“It’s good to have fun while remaining well-behaved,” said Akane Tamana, a 21-year-old university student dressed as Mario.

At around 6 p.m. Wednesday, a fire broke out in a building in the area’s iconic Center-gai shopping street, with crowds watching as smoke poured from a rooftop exhaust duct. No injuries were reported, according to the police, who said the building hosts a number of restaurants. They said the cause of the fire has not been established.