Japan’s Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization, Yasutoshi Nishimura, says the government is considering taking stronger action against certain businesses, including pachinko parlors, who have failed to heed calls to stop trading following the declaration of a state of emergency by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The action could include notices for cessation of business including the naming of businesses failing to heed warnings.
Prefectural governors have asked businesses such as pachinko parlors to cooperate and stop trading, but this request is voluntary and there is no legal enforcement. As a result, some businesses are continuing to operate with photos emerging showing customers lining up outside and in very close proximity to one another.
According to Nishimura, because there are cases of people crossing into other prefectures to gather at places such pachinko halls, there has been discussion about strengthening the request from several governors.
On 14 April, a television interview with a customer at a pachinko hall in Ibaraki shown on public broadcasting revealed that he had traveled from the neighboring prefecture. Although it is impossible to draw simple comparisons, it is notable that pachinko is continuing to serve its clients at a time when many overseas casinos have completely closed their doors and most domestic eateries and entertainment businesses have suspended operations.
The amended Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response states that governors can make requests and notices along with publicizing business operator names.