Minister Keiichi Ishii (29 July in Kasumigaseki)

Japan Ministry Of Land, Infrastructure And Transport Send Request To Pokémon GO Developers

“We have received reports that a man entered the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway while playing Pokémon GO. We have received word from expressway companies that they have sent requests to the game’s developer that characters appearing in the game be removed from expressways, and we the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport make the same request to the developer as of today.”

During an interview on 29 July, Minister Keiichi Ishii of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport made clear the ministry’s intention of sending requests to the game’s developer Niantic Inc., Niantic’s Japanese branch, as well as the two companies in charge of managing the Pokémon license, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo. This is the first time that the ministry has made requests to the parties in question.

Vehicle-only roads that the ministry is in charge of managing total 2,000 km nationwide and include roads such as the Hodogaya Bypass that connects expressways located in Kanagawa Prefecture. While some roads contain interval sections such as the Hakone Shindo that serve as bypasses between national highways, however these roads are also off limits to pedestrians. “We request that settings in the game be implemented that keep players from wandering into areas where they are prohibited from entering as a means of keeping people out of restricted areas,” stated the safety administration of the ministry.

The letter was signed by the heads of the Road Administrative Division, The National Highway Risk Management Division, and the Environmental Safety Division of the ministry. The contents of the request were primarily twofold.

“We ask that provisions be added to the game that do not allow for the appearance of Pokémon in or along expressways or vehicle-only national roads managed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.”

“In addition, we ask that considerations and changes to the application be made to secure the safety of all those using expressways and vehicle-only national roads managed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.”

[Translated by Bryce Clarke]