COVID-19: Osaka to name and shame gambling outlets

Japan's Osaka to name and shame pachinko parlours defying coronavirus lockdown

Visitors play pachinko, a Japanese form of legal gambling, at a pachinko parlour, after the government announced nationwide state of emergency following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo. (Credit: 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.

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"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.

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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.

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