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Coming of Age evens scaled down because of past trouble

Date Posted: 2003-01-10

January 13 is a national holiday called “Coming of Age Day.” That marks a day when young people who during previous year became 20 years old are officially recognized as adults. Traditionally, local governments have organized gatherings in local civil halls where community leaders have given speeches to celebrating new adults. However, in recent years these occasions have more than often turned into near riots when some participants have laid emphasis more on the rights, especially on the right to consume alcoholic beverages, than on responsibilities that the adulthood brings.

For example, in Okinawa City, the mayor reportedly told the noisy crowd to shut up or get out, only to be told by the crowd to get out himself. In some other places, local mayors scheduled to give a speech to the youngsters became so angered over the unruly behavior that they stormed out. In many cases it took a police action to get the crowd under control.

Anticipating similar trouble, Naha City officials canceled the traditional ceremony and organized a debate between Mayor Takeshi Onaga and a selected group of new adults. The debate took place in Palette Kumoji, Sunday. Officials had sent an invitation to 400 youths, but only some 80 showed up.

This year most of Coming of Age ceremonies are scheduled to be held at local junior high schools instead in one common place where everyone could participate. This means smaller crowds that organizers hope are easier to control. Still, many fear that there still could be groups of young adults who will take their freedoms too literally.

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