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Japanese Retailers Enforce Restrictions on 18-Rated Games

Japanese Retailers Enforce Restrictions on 18-Rated Games

July 19, 2005 | By Nich Maragos

July 19, 2005 | By Nich Maragos
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According to official reports translated by consumer game site GameSpot, the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association, the Japanese counterpart to the ESRB, has announced a voluntary program to prevent the sale of games rated 18 to minors. The program is seen partially as a preemptive move to cancel possible governmental restrictions in the wake of Kanagawa prefecture's labeling of Grand Theft Auto III as banned to minors under the legislature.

Under the CESA's proposal, retailers -- both those that specialize in games as well as larger electronic department stores or convenience stores that carry games -- would check ID to ensure that buyers were old enough to purchase the games in question, though those with a guardian present would be allowed to buy the game with the guardian's permission. This part of CESA's actions mirrors similar efforts by the IEMA in North America to enforce the ESRB ratings.

In addition, as part of the Japanese measures, retailers would also post flyers and posters with information about CESA's ratings system within the store, and keep 18-rated games racked separately from the rest of the store's stock.

Unlike any potential government-dictated program, compliance with CESA's program is strictly voluntary. However, the vast majority of retailers are going along with the proposal in an effort to put forth the image of a responsible industry: CESA distribution committee chief Kiyoshi Komatsu indicated that: "These self-regulation proposals have been accepted by 95 percent of retailers at the current time." It is unknown whether the voluntary program will have an effect on governmental proposals coming up for review in Osaka, Ishikawa, and Saitama prefectures.

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