The 3 companies in charge of Japanese East, Central, and Western expressways (Collectively known as NEXCO) as well as the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company, Tokyo Expressway and Hanshin Expressway managing companies sent a letter with requests on behalf of the companies to the developers of the mobile application PokÃ©mon GO on 28 July.
The 6 expressway companies sent requests to the Japanese branch of PokÃ©mon GO developer Niantic as well as Nintendo and the PokÃ©mon Company, which are in charge of managing the applicationâ€™s IP. The request sent to all three companies asked that PokÃ©mon (tiny monsters that the player attempts to catch via augmented reality) not be made available for users to catch on the highway or at rest stations or in parking lots and that in-game item-distributing locations known as PokÃ©stops (that correspond to real world locations) be removed from expressways.
â€œThe situation has come to this point, especially when youâ€™re talking about keeping pedestrians from entering on and off ramps. We believe that the developers took this into account when building the application, but there is some margin for error in terms of GPS surveying. As those in charge of maintaining expressways, we feel it is imperative that we ask for considerations to be made for traffic safety,â€ stated one executive of the group of expressway companies.
On 27 July, expressway companies appealed to PokÃ©mon GO players by reiterating that parking on the highway is illegal and to be cautious of oneâ€™s surroundings when using a mobile phone while walking. The letter sent out on 28 July asked for further cooperation from companies in charge of managing the application.
â€œWe understand that there are people who are very much enjoying the application, and we feel that it would be unacceptable to ask for a ban on the app itself. For example, if it were possible for the user to receive some sort of in-game damage if they caught a monster on the highway or to implement some setting that requires users to be wary of their surroundings, we would ask that things like this be added to the game.â€ (Aforementioned expressway company executive).
On 24 July, 24 year old Brazilian man entered the highway in Mino City, Gifu Prefecture while playing the game. Expressway companies plan to heighten their investigations into incidents of people entering expressways on foot, to inquire into the reasoning behind people entering, and to work on preventing these occurrences from continuing.
[Translated by Bryce Clarke]