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New Child Seat Regulation to be Effective Soon

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-12-17

Japanese police departments all over the country are firmly decided on enforcing a law which obliges the installment of child seats in cars from next April.

Due to the lack of other urban transportation options, most people in Okinawa depend heavily on automobiles for transportation. The Prefecture of Okinawa has often been described as the "Car Community". It therefore seems logical to many that there are higher risks of tragic accidents on Okinawa’s drivers.

Last year alone, 9548 children under 6 years old were victims of traffic accidents in Japan. According to Japanese Police Department data, the percentage of infants without child seats who die every year is nine times higher than those with child seats.

The new regulation will be aimed at parents whose children are under 6 years old. It is estimated that over 112,000 small children will be the main targets of the new measures. One point penalty will be the sanction on those who violate the regulation after 1st of April of next year.

However, though we are only a couple of months before the law goes into effect, the Japanese Police Department says it has not noted any particular haste on the part of many parents to start installing the car seats for their children.

One of the reasons for the slow process of installment could be the high price of child seats. The regular price for a child seat in Japan ranges between ¥20,000 and ¥100,000 (approximately 196 to 980 dollars), a huge burden for many families with more than one child. Moreover, the fact that Okinawa has the largest number of children per family, and also registers the lowest per capita income in the country, may be another factor of the slow progress on the island.

To improve the installment situation, many organizations and individuals have been offered a helping hand through fund-raisers for the child seats, which are then donated to the Traffic Safety Associations in cities throughout Okinawa so they can lend them to families who can't afford the expense.

The volunteer group, Kariyushi Kouyu-kai is one of the organizations that promotes the child seat installments by holding fundraising charity bazaars whose profits go for the child seats. Now, Kariyushi Kouyu-kai is collecting used child seats for their cause. Anyone who has redundant child seats at your home would like to give a helping hand should contact Mitsuko at 932-8844 by phone or fax.

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