Problem gambling in Japan: A social perspective

Abstract

Gambling is illegal in Japan. However, due to loopholes in the law and inconsistent policies, many forms of gambling are allowed to exist. Multiple government agencies are involved but none have legal responsibility for addressing the consequence of excessive gambling. There appears to be an increase in problem gambling among Japanese men who are alienated and frustrated by a deterioration in their work environment. One way Japanese cope with stress is by withdrawal, and gambling, especially pachinko and pachislot, offers an escape from work-related pressures and feelings of inadequacy. Gambling-related problems bring shame to the gambler and family members, who are afraid of public exposure and social exclusion. Gamblers Anonymous (GA), the self-help group for problem gamblers, started in the United States but has been adapted to meet Japanese needs. These include avoidance of confrontation and acceptance by nakama (one's fellows). GA members and their families regain healthy ways of living through mutual support and identification with their nakama.

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