‘Lethal weapon’: Bereaved families warn against excessive drinking as online gambling spreads


A board game that uses small liquor bottles as playing pieces. (YouTube screenshot)

TOKYO — As Japanese universities welcome new students to their campuses and parties to welcome those students are held by various groups, a liaison council made up of the bereaved families of students who died from excessive alcohol consumption s is working to prevent calls at parties pressuring young people to gorge themselves on alcohol.

The Ikki-nomi Boshi Renraku Kyogi-kai (Liaison Council to Prevent Excessive Alcohol Consumption) warns that “addresses for excessive alcohol consumption can turn into lethal weapons” as part of its ruling this spring to prevent excessive drinking and instances of people pressuring others to drink.

“Ikki! Ikki!” – literally “Binge! Binge! – was chosen as the most popular phrase of the year in 1985 in an annual competition held by a Japanese publisher, which gave the act of excessive drinking l “opportunity to become even more popular as a result. According to the Liaison Council, people have died of acute alcohol poisoning every year since 1983, for a total to date of 161. Since 1993, the year after its inception, the council appeals to universities in the spring, at the time of the start of the academic year, and other institutions, to prevent excessive alcohol consumption.

A poster produced by the Ikki-nomi Boshi Renraku Kyogi-kai (Binge Drinking Prevention Liaison Council). (Image from City Hall website)

The ‘ikki’ callout changed shape and appeared on video-sharing platforms such as YouTube and TikTok. The council is particularly concerned about a board game that was created to be played at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The game pieces YouTubers use are small 20 millimeter liquor bottles with an alcohol content of 15 or 20 percent, and in-game participants drink. There are several videos on the site, with over 20 million views.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, no deaths due to excessive alcohol consumption have been confirmed. The holiday season welcoming freshmen to universities overlapped with the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020 and the fourth wave in 2021, but Japan is heading into spring without any government-imposed restrictions for restaurants on square. This is why the Liaison Council has retained the slogan “calls for excessive alcohol consumption can turn into deadly weapons”. He made A2 size posters with the slogan and sent them to 752 universities with a written request asking for preventive measures to be taken.

“According to data from the Tokyo Fire Department, it is clear that the number of people transported by emergency services for alcohol poisoning after the relaxation of various coronavirus-related restrictions will tend to increase,” said Tomomi Imanari, president of ‘ASK (Alcohol Yakubutu Mondai Zenkoku Shimin Kyokai), or the non-profit society specified in Japan for preventing alcohol and drug problems and other addictions, where the council secretariat is located. “Industry groups and others are working to prevent excessive alcohol consumption, but there is no way to restrict actions online, so it is important that universities and students have the right awareness” , she said.

(Japanese original by Nao Yamamoto, Osaka Project Liaison and Marketing Department)

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