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Drinkers falling asleep in the road are dying in traffic accidents, Tokyo police warn

By Kathleen Magramo and Kathleen Benoza, CNN

Police in Japan’s capital are urging people to moderate their alcohol consumption this holiday season following an increase in deaths of drinkers hit by vehicles after falling asleep on the street.

As of November 25, 10 people had been killed in such accidents this year, Tokyo police said in a recent Twitter post — representing 22% of all pedestrian deaths in the capital. “That’s double what it was last year. Pedestrians, drink in moderation!” the post read.

Police are concerned the death toll could rise further as people attend end-of-year celebrations and office parties, especially as nightlife picks back up after the easing of Covid restrictions.

The department has released a public service announcement video warning people of the risks of excessive drinking and reminders on road safety. It will be shown inside 60,000 taxis with monitors in Tokyo in the lead up to New Year’s Eve.

Japan lifted its coronavirus state of emergency in October 2021, allowing restaurants to sell alcohol again and stay open later but restrictions in some parts of the country remained in place until March this year.

International travel to Japan resumed in October this year and tourism authorities are hoping for a wave of visitors over the holidays.

Japan has a relatively low level of alcohol consumption, according to a 2021 OECD study, which factors in the impact of the pandemic, but social drinking is commonplace during festivities.

The Japanese drink about 8 liters of pure alcohol per year per capita — that’s roughly equivalent to 1.6 bottles of wine or about 3 liters of beer per week per person.

Alcohol consumption in Japan waned during the pandemic, with restrictions hitting the business of bars and other places selling drinks.

The drop in sales has also dragged down liquor tax revenues, prompting a controversial campaign by the Japanese government this year aimed at encouraging young people to drink more alcohol.

But Japan’s Health Ministry has in the past warned of the dangers of drinking too much. In a post on its website last year, it called excessive alcohol consumption a “major social problem” that persisted despite the recent slowdown in consumption. And it urged people with unhealthy drinking habits to “reconsider” their relationship with alcohol.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Jessie Yeung and Junko Ogura contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Asia/Pacific

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