Japanese official attacked online over GTA III ban

Japanese gamers flood governor's blog; criticize decision to ban the sale and rental of Grand Theft Auto III to those 18 and under.

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TOKYO--The Mainichi Daily News is reporting that hundreds of Japanese gamers have launched an all-out attack on the blog of Governor Shigefumi Matsuzawa over his ban of sales and rentals of Grand Theft Auto III to those 18 years and younger in Kanagawa, Japan. The ban went into effect in June after Matsuzawa and the Kanagawa Prefectual government declared the game "a harmful product."

Matsuzawa launched an online blog on his Web site last month, and Japanese gamers soon began to flood it with critical posts--numbering in the hundreds.

One gamer criticized the Kanagawa Prefectual government's lack of "scientific grounds" over its claims that such games as GTA III can promote violent behavior in players.

"The reasons for the (harmful product) designation is vague," another blog post reportedly said.

"We see an increased number of crimes committed by members of school sports clubs. You also have to review sports education," another post read.

Some of the criticism turned personal, the paper said.

Some comments ended up in the section on Matsuzawa's Web site that highlights his interest in jogging and rugby, where one poster took aim and commented: "If you have time to jog, you would do better to read people's criticisms of game regulations."

Matsuzawa has responded by saying that he is unable to post replies to every blog post made. That comment brought on a further 255 posts from gamers critical of the governor. "I've received some terrible comments, but I think it's good for me to hear a variety of opinions," the governor wrote.

Matsuzawa wants gamers to carefully review the comments he has made at previous press conferences over the controversy of regulating games sales in Japan. Meanwhile, the governor will keep his blog open, and continue to post his own comments.

"I will never stop [adding and posting to] my Web site," he wrote.

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