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Defying local gov't request, Osaka pachinko parlor reopens as 100s of customers line up

People line up in front of a pachinko parlor in Osaka's Asahi Ward on the morning of May 7, 2020, after the business reopened following the prefectural government's request to temporarily close down over coronavirus fears. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

OSAKA -- A pachinko parlor in western Japan reopened on May 7 in defiance of an Osaka Prefectural Government request to temporarily suspend operations to help prevent novel coronavirus transmissions.

The business had shut for a time after the prefecture publicly named it for failing to follow the closure request.

Several hundred people formed a line in front of the parlor in Osaka's Asahi Ward before its 10 a.m. opening. Staff escorted the customers to its multi-story parking lot and asked them to keep a distance of about 2 meters from each other. A sign at the entrance called on customers to use hand sanitizer, and to make sure they wear masks and wash their hands. The parlor also checked their body temperatures as a preventive measure.

An 80-year-old female local patron told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I haven't been here for 10 days. I don't have anything to do at home so I came here to get refreshed. I was excited and came an hour earlier than usual."

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters on May 7 that the prefectural government's request to close pachinko parlors had lost its effectiveness the previous day. He said, "We will be persistent in asking them (to do so) again."

(Japanese original by Yuta Shibayama and Masaki Ishikawa, Osaka City News Department)

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