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Tokyo’s Shibuya axes New Year’s Eve countdown for fourth year in a row

SINGAPORE: Tokyo’s Shibuya district has cancelled its New Year’s Eve countdown for the fourth year in a row due to concerns over “safety and security at the event”, which typically draws about 100,000 revellers.

In an online notice, Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe said that the decision takes into consideration “the increased number of visitors since the summer”, and that security will be strengthened from last year.

“To prevent accidents related to overcrowding, the city intends to strengthen security and implement safety measures in cooperation with the police, public transportation agencies and fire departments,” he said.

The mayor also announced that street drinking in the area around Shibuya station will be banned from 6pm on Dec 31 to 5am on Jan 1.

Kiosks, convenience stores and mass merchandisers in the area have been asked to refrain from selling alcoholic beverages, Mr Hasebe added.

s and other displays around Shibuya’s famed scramble crossing will also be switched off at 11pm on Dec 31, an hour earlier than usual.

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The district first cancelled its New Year’s Eve countdown event – which it began hosting in 2016 – in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same reason was given when it was cancelled in 2021 and 2022.

Earlier this year, Mr Hasebe urged people not to gather around Shibuya station for Halloween celebrations, which have drawn about 40,000 people in the past.

This came a year after a deadly crowd crush in South Korea, where nearly 160 people were crushed to death in a narrow alleyway in Seoul.

Tokyo has also had its own brushes with Halloween disaster. Two years ago, a man dressed as the Joker stabbed another person on a train and attempted to kill others by starting a blaze.

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