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Under age drinking a big local problem

Date Posted: 2006-04-07

Teen drinking has propelled Okinawa into yet another dubious statistical title.

Okinawa Prefecture Police say under age drinking on the island is running ten times higher than the nationwide average. They call Okinawa’s record ‘the worst in Japan.’

The latest study of more than 4,000 boys caught and punished for under age consumption of alcohol showed 16.6~17% of local Okinawa youth involved, while the mainland statistic is only 1.8 incidents per 1,000 cases. Police say Okinawa drinking problems involve both boys and girls.

Police scold adults for not taking enough interest in what their youngsters are doing. The legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol is 20. Documented cases show children as young as 12 years old are consuming alcohol. Easily obtained awamori, a local distilled product, is the most popular among youth.

Officials charge convenience stores with being negligent in checking identification before selling alcohol. In some cases, store clerks said they simply didn’t care, but convenience store owners blame a high turnover in clerks, and the continuing education process, as a reason for the inattentive behavior on the part of employees.

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