Japanese restaurateur “Kill Bill” defies new virus brakes

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A man walks past restaurants that closed after 8 p.m., the time the government asks them to close, amid the coronavirus emergency decree in Tokyo, Japan, Jan. 15, 2021.REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO, July 9 (Reuters) – Japanese restaurateur “Kill Bill” said on Friday he would defy new restrictions on the coronavirus virus and open normally despite a government suggestion that companies breaking the rules could face new financial sanctions.

The government on Thursday declared a fourth state of emergency against the coronavirus for the capital, Tokyo, just two weeks before the start of the Olympics. Due to persistent infections, spectators will not be allowed at any Olympic venue in greater Tokyo.

The coronavirus restrictions, which will last until August 22, include asking restaurants to close early and stop serving alcohol in exchange for a government subsidy.

Kozo Hasegawa, president of Global-Dining Inc (7625.T), which operates 43 restaurants including one that inspired a bloody fight scene in the movie “Kill Bill: Volume I”, said he would not obey rules.

“We will continue our ordinary operations throughout this new state of emergency with alcoholic beverages served,” Hasegawa said in a message to Reuters.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is also in charge of the pandemic response, suggested Thursday evening that he would ask banks to put pressure on restaurants that do not comply with the stricter measures.

“We will respond by imposing sanctions and other means on those who refuse to comply,” Nishimura said.

On Friday, after the words “financial institutions”, “pressure”, “Minister Nishimura” became hot topics on Twitter in Japan, Nishimura said he did not mean that loans should be denied to these companies. .

Nonetheless, Hasegawa said he was shocked by the minister’s comments.

“The cabinet seems to be in chaos,” he said, adding that it seemed the minister “didn’t know much about our constitution.”

In an about-face, the main government spokesperson said later on Friday that he had decided that banks would not be asked to put pressure on restaurants and bars that do not follow the government’s demand to shut down to serve alcohol under emergency restrictions.

“We have decided to prevent ministries from putting pressure on individual financial institutions,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press conference.

DINNER WITH BUSH

Global-Dining outlets had previously fought with authorities over restrictions and at times flouted city government demands to close early and not to serve alcohol.

Global-Dining’s Gonpachi restaurant, with a cavernous interior courtyard, inspired the fight scene in Quentin Tarantino’s first film “Kill Bill”. It was the venue for a dinner between then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and US President George W. Bush in 2002.

Japan has not suffered the type of explosive COVID-19 outbreaks seen in many other countries. But it has had more than 810,000 cases and 14,900 deaths and the slow deployment of the vaccine has meant that only a quarter of the population has had at least one injection.

The dispute with Hasegawa highlights what some health experts have criticized as weak enforcement of restrictions in Japan, where the government has relied heavily on cooperation from businesses to comply.

Kato said earlier that the new measures were not intended to target specific companies, but were part of a larger awareness campaign.

“We want banks to ask the companies they deal with in their day-to-day communication to comply with coronavirus countermeasures,” Kato told reporters.

By law, restaurants that refuse to comply with requests face a penalty of up to 300,000 yen ($ 2,725.79).

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto, Antoni Slodkowski, Linda Sieg, Rocky Swift and Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Robert Birsel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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