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Governor condemns restaurants in Japan for banning foreigners amid virus fears

Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi speaks to the press after a coronavirus countermeasure task force meeting on March 27, 2020. (Mainichi/Shizuka Takebayashi)

SAGA -- A governor in southwest Japan has slammed local businesses for reportedly refusing to serve foreign customers due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic, telling them to refrain from "heartless acts."

During a meeting of the Saga Prefectural Government's coronavirus countermeasure task force on March 27, Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi mentioned that some restaurants in the prefecture were refusing to serve foreign customers. Blasting their actions, Yamaguchi said it was "extremely nonsensical" to refuse customers merely because they are foreign nationals.

According to the prefectural government's International Affairs Division, a foreign assistant language teacher recently visited a restaurant in the prefectural city of Takeo and found a sign in several languages including English, Chinese and Korean saying that it had stopped accepting customers from overseas. After being contacted about the sign, the division checked other businesses to see if there were similar cases and found that at least one eatery in the city of Karatsu had refused entry by foreigners.

There were 7,208 foreign nationals living in Saga Prefecture as of Jan. 1, 2020.

"I don't want to see incidents where businesses refuse people's entries just because they're foreigners," Gov. Yamaguchi said. "There are many non-Japanese residents living in our prefecture, and it's not desirable to build walls in such places."

(Japanese original by Mio Ikeda and Shizuka Takebayashi, Saga Bureau)

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