The Japanese government said it will retract a policy to ask financial institutions to ensure restaurants follow the ban on serving alcohol during the latest state of emergency.
The decision on Friday came only a day after putting forward the initiative as a way to strengthen anti-Covid response, Xinhua news agency reported.
The controversial policy announced on Thursday by Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan’s Covid-19 response, drew criticism that the government was attempting to use lenders to pressure the alcohol-serving restaurants.
Nishimura said on Thursday that the government will share with financial institutions information about their client restaurants that are ignoring the alcohol ban request and hopes financial institutions to help on the ban.
He also said that the government will ask alcohol beverage companies to stop selling alcohol drinks to restaurants during the state of emergency.
The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) called the measure nothing but a threat to eateries.
Jun Azumin, the CDPJ’s Diet affairs chief, said Nishimura expressed a “condescending” attitude and was merely trying to threaten and add constraints on the alcohol-serving restaurants.
Azumin even urged Nishimura to resign from the government before drawing anger from the public.
Nishimura said on Friday that the government would try to deal with the “unfairness” between establishments obeying the government’s request not to serve alcohol and those ignoring the request.
Under the state of emergency to be effective in Tokyo and extended in Okinawa, the government will prohibit restaurants from serving alcohol and maintain its request for them to close by 8 p.m.
Restaurants in prefectures such as Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Osaka that extended a quasi-state of emergency to August 22 are asked not to serve alcohol in principle.
However, they can allow alcohol drinking until 7 p.m. depending on the respective Governors’ decisions.