A state of emergency has been declared in Japan. In recent weeks, the number of covid-19 cases has increased, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for an 80 percent reduction in person-to-person contact. Yet, some pachinko parlors refuse to close.
Earlier this month, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike included pachinko parlors, along with bars and clubs, in the establishments she was requesting shut down to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Many pachinko parlors followed the request, but some did not.
People are packed into close quarters in pachinko parlors, and they touch the machines and little metal balls they win.
Today, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura named and shamed six pachinko parlors in the prefecture that have refused to close during the state of emergency.
Next Tuesday, the Tokyo government will do the same. According to Jiji, the Governor of Hyogo, the prefecture that neighbors Osaka, is considering taking action should local pachinko parlors continue to ignore the request to temporarily shutter.
“I think this is actually more crowded than usual,” 22-year-old pachinko player Kensuke Takao told Reuters in a Tokyo parlor. “I suppose everybody doesn’t have jobs or places to go other than these pachinko parlors, which are still open.”
The country’s two major pachinko chains, Maruhan and Dynam, have already closed half their locations, Reuters adds. More are expected to temporarily shut down this weekend. “Places that are touched a lot, such as the pachinko machines, slot machines and lockers, are wiped down with alcohol,” a Dynam spokesman told Reuters. “The conditions at each location vary, so social distancing measures are left to the individual parlors.”