Nishimura regrets remark but will not resign

NHK -- Jul 13
The government minister in charge of Japan's coronavirus response says he regrets causing owners of drinking establishments concern with a remark on infection-curbing measures. He said he would not be resigning.

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi made the remark last week. He suggested the government would share information with financial institutions on businesses not complying with the government's urgings not to serve alcohol. He said the government would ask lenders to call on bars and restaurants to follow restrictions. He noted the request had no legal force.

His remark triggered criticism from alcoholic beverage retailers and others coping with a severe business environment. The government retracted the suggestion by Nishimura.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Nishimura expressed his regret and noted that his remark had caused alarm and concern among operators of bars and restaurants. He said he was motivated by a determination to curb infections with the help of every part of society.

He went on to say that he does not intend to ask financial institutions to limit loans and has decided not to ask for cooperation from banks and other lenders in response to the concerns of business operators.

He indicated that he will work to ensure that drinking establishments that close early in line with government requests promptly receive subsidies.

Members of opposition parties have called on Nishimura to resign over the remark. Nishimura says he will not step down, instead stressing his responsibility to curb infections while helping businesses continue to operate.