Police in the Japanese capital are urging people to cut back on alcohol consumption this holiday, amid an increase in the number of people killed by vehicles after drinkers fell asleep in the streets.
Tokyo police recently tweeted that as of Nov. 25, 10 people had died in such accidents this year postal – accounted for 22% of all pedestrian fatalities in the capital. “This is twice as much as last year. Pedestrians please drink in moderation!” the post read.
Police fear the death toll could rise further as people attend end-of-year celebrations and office parties, especially as nightlife resumes after Covid restrictions are eased.
The department has released a public service announcement video reminding people of the risks of excessive drinking and road safety tips. On New Year’s Eve, it will be displayed in 60,000 taxis with displays in Tokyo.
Japan lifted its coronavirus state of emergency in October 2021, allowing restaurants to sell alcohol again and open later, but restrictions in parts of the country continued until March.
International travel to Japan resumed in October, with tourism authorities hoping for a wave of visitors during the holiday season.
According to a 2021 OECD study, Japan has relatively low levels of alcohol consumption, which has also played a role in the pandemic, but social drinking during celebrations is commonplace.
The average Japanese drink about 8 liters of pure alcohol per year – roughly equivalent to 1.6 bottles of wine or about 3 liters of beer per person per week.
Alcohol consumption has declined in Japan during the pandemic, with business restricted at bars and other places that sell alcohol.
Falling sales have also weighed on liquor tax revenue, prompting the Japanese government this year to launch a controversial campaign aimed at encouraging young people to drink more.
But Japan’s health ministry has warned in the past about the dangers of excessive drinking. In a post on its website last year, it called excessive drinking a “major social problem” that persisted despite a recent slowdown in consumption. It also urged people with unhealthy drinking habits to “reconsider” their relationship with alcohol.