TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Osaka Prefecture said it will name and shame more pachinko parlour gambling outlets that are defying coronavirus lockdown requests after three out of six locations it identified on Friday subsequently closed.
“A lot of places have closed down after we named the six last week. We are now conducting a survey of pachinko parlours and will announce the results accordingly,” a spokesman for Osaka Prefecture said.
The continued operation of some noisy gambling halls is a conspicuous reminder of the limits of Japanese government’s ability to lock down cities with requests rather than orders backed up with fines.
Japan has shied away from stronger enforcement steps in part because of memories of civil rights abuses during World War Two, and protection of such rights are enshrined in Japan’s U.S.-drafted post-war constitution.
Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other areas on April 7 that it later extended to the rest of the country.
Pachinko parlours, where players sit back-to-back at long rows of machines with bouncing steel balls and garish lights, are a common sight in Japan and easy for health officials to identify.
“They are big, and we know were they are. When it comes to bars and restaurants that are still operating, however, finding them is more difficult,” said the Osaka Prefecture spokesman.
Some Twitter users expressed anger at pachinko parlours remaining open, noting that diehard players will drive to neighbouring prefectures in order to play.
“Even a child should be able to understand that those places are breeding grounds for the virus - crowded, closed in, and with close contact,” wrote Twitter user Akashinomadai.
“And here I am giving up fishing in the healthy open air in order to fight this disease.”
Reporting by Tim Kelly and Elaine Lies; Editing by Michael Perry