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Youth run out of control during holiday festivities

Date Posted: 2005-01-13

Celebration of ‘Coming of Age Day’ Sunday and Monday brought hundreds of law enforcement officers onto the streets to control unruly youth.

Monday was the official holiday, where young people are recognized at turning 20 years of age. The day is important because it marks the turning point where youngsters become liable for their actions, and earn the right to smoke, drink, marry without permission and achieve adulthood.

More than 252 police officers surged into the streets of Naha Sunday to curb the actions of 120 people gathered at the Okinawa Prefectural Hall plaza, where they were pouring beer over each other. Many were dressed in kimonos in the white, pink or blue colors showing which schools they’d graduated from. Some grappled with police, while others stood by watching and drinking alcohol. Others simply walked up and down the main streets.

Police say they exercised restraint, arresting none while taking three into protective custody because they were overly drunk. Another youth was arrested for traffic violations.

A ceremony in Aomori Sunday was interrupted as a youth jumped onto the stage and began dancing. Although officials snatched him away, a dozen of his compatriots continued disrupting the proceedings, tossing paper onto the stage.

In another incident, Naha Police report they arrested a drunk man who’d begun kicking a policeman in the backside. The 1am arrest came after the man told police “I was irritated after being warned by another police officer about behavior.”

Concerned over the rising number of incidents, local officials had teamed with police this year to watch more vigilantly during Coming of Age Day ceremonies and celebrations.

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