Restaurant Chain Sues Tokyo Government over COVID Curbs

A Tokyo-based restaurant chain operator on Monday filed a damages suit against the Tokyo metropolitan government for ordering business hours be reduced as a public safety measure during the coronavirus pandemic, Nikkei Asia reported. Global-Dining claims the order "is illegal and unconstitutional as it infringes the right to freedom of business" in the first such lawsuit anywhere in Japan. The company runs dozens of restaurants including the Gonpachi "izakaya" Japanese-style pubs. The restaurant operator is seeking only 104 yen ($1) in damages, demonstrating it is looking to shine light on the impact of government-enforced anti-virus measures that it believes excessively hamper business operations and people's lives. The plaintiff's lawyer Rintaro Kuramochi said imposing blanket restrictions without offering evidence that restaurants are a source of infections violates the freedom of business guaranteed under the Constitution. After a revision to the coronavirus special measures law last month, prefectures can give an order to businesses such as restaurants to shorten business hours during a state of emergency if the businesses defy the request without a valid reason. Under the revised law, businesses can be fined up to 300,000 yen if they do not comply. Read more.