Japan business leaders call for support under coronavirus emergency

Kyodo -- Jan 08
Japanese business leaders said Thursday support will be necessary for struggling firms under a second state of emergency over the novel coronavirus in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, while they viewed the decision as inevitable due to resurging infections.

Many owners in the restaurant industry are expected to follow a government request to shorten their business hours, bracing for a further drop in revenue after the number of bankruptcies in the sector hit an all-time high last year as many people refrained from dining out.

"A fresh request for shorter business hours, among others, will deal an additional blow to businesses that have already taken an enormous hit, especially restaurants that have barely endured on the brink of management crisis," said Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mimura asked for "flexible and swift" aid from the government and local authorities to firms that follow requests so that they can stay in business.

Under the state of emergency through Feb. 7, restaurants and bars are asked to stop serving alcohol by 7 p.m. and close by 8 p.m. The government will provide up to 60,000 yen ($580) a day to dining and drinking establishments that comply with its request to shorten business hours, an increase from the current support of up to 40,000 yen.

- Kyodo