BARS, RESTAURANTS FEAR NEW EMERGENCY IN JAPAN
Updated: Jan 9, 2021
The president of Japanese beverages giant Suntory Holdings Ltd. recently told reporters that he is worried the coronavirus state of emergency set to be decided for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures as early as Jan. 7 will force many restaurants and bars out of business, and push their workers into dire financial straits.
"I think bankruptcies will increase," Takeshi Niinami told reporters at his first press conference of 2021. "Conditions will be more severe than they were the last time" a state of emergency was declared, in April 2020, reported Mainichi Shimbun.
Eateries and drinking establishments will be asked to close by 8pm under the emergency declaration.
"It's the non-regular workers who are bearing the brunt of all this. Suicide numbers are rising," pointed out Niinami.
However, about the emergency declaration itself, the Suntory president said, "There are some people who think it's coming too early. It's very difficult to say what the best timing is."
On the prospects for his own company, one of Japan's largest beer makers, Niinami told reporters, "We expect sales to hit rock-bottom for January to March, and then to get a little better in April and May."
He also said that the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics would "ignite" Japan's ailing economy, and that he thought that the games plus the quick distribution of the coronavirus vaccine were together the key to recovery.
Niinami furthermore called for government aid for izakaya Japanese pubs and restaurants -- which carry his company's products -- to stay in business, noting that "Japanese food is part of this country's culture."
The Suntory chief added that he hopes to "release a string of innovative products" in the second half of 2021, and expressed his desire to expand the company's operations in the projected high-growth markets of Southeast Asia, China and India.
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