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145A darker sky in Japan

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  • Kym
    Apr 2, 2003
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      Saga bans searchlights, lasers to preserve starry night sky

      Tuesday, April 1, 2003 at 09:00 JST
      SAGA — Saga Prefecture on Tuesday enforced an ordinance to protect
      the night sky by banning the use of searchlight and laser beams for
      commercial purpose.

      The ordinance, enacted last October at the request of local star
      gazers, primarily targets pachinko pinball parlors, hotels and other
      business operators that beam searchlight and laser into the night sky
      as advertising gimmick.

      The Saga business community has promised to cooperate, and Saga
      officials say they expect all commercial searchlight and laser beams
      will go out by the end of September, the end of a six-month
      moratorium allowed under the ordinance.

      Saga's environmental department says the use of searchlight by the
      Self-Defense Forces and other legal light-beam users, is exempt from
      the measure.

      The ordinance specifically bans the use of outdoor light beams that
      have no specific target. Violators are subject to a maximum 50,000
      yen fine.

      When the Saga Prefectural Assembly enacted the "environment
      protection" ordinance, eight business establishments in the
      prefecture used light beams for advertising. All but one of them have
      already abandoned the practice. The remaining holdout — a hotel — has
      promised to end the practice as well. (Kyodo News)