[Update, June 26] On Thursday June 25, Yamato city in Kanagawa prefecture became the first Japanese municipality to ban the use of smartphones while walking. Starting Wednesday July 1, residents will have to move to the side of the pavement to use their smartphone, instead of standing in the middle and blocking pedestrian traffic. However, there will be no penalty if pedestrians are caught using their phones on the streets.
[June 3 2020] We’re all guilty of depending on our smartphones a little too much. Phones have become so commonplace that we play games, watch movies and order food on the go without even blinking an eye. Unfortunately, when that tiny, portable computer buzzes in our pockets, the Pavlovian instinct kicks in and our eyes focus on the device rather than the road in front of us. Now, Yamato city in Kanagawa prefecture is standing up to smartphone zombies – aka, all of us.
Japan Today reports Yamato city officials submitted a bill on June 1, which, if passed, would be the first official move to ban smartphone use while walking in Japan. While there will be no punishment for those guilty of walking and staring at their phones, city official Masaaki Yasumi said he hopes ‘the ban will raise more awareness about the dangers’. Residents of Yamato city will learn about the ban and the risks of not looking where you’re going through posters and messages throughout the city starting next month.
We can only hope this ban will extend to Tokyo one day, too. In the meantime, let's remember to always be mindful of our surroundings. Never walk and text, and only play our phone games in the safety of trains, cafés or while standing on the side of the pavement – out of the way of other pedestrians, of course.
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