A Chinese restaurant in Tokyo’s Higashi-Nakano neighborhood has sparked controversy after putting up a sign refusing service to Chinese customers.
Videos circulating online show groups of Chinese visitors angrily confronting the lone Japanese owner of restaurant as well as police officers.
In one video with over 50,000 views, the owner argues with a Chinese man at the entrance and prevents him from entering.
The owner claims he implemented the policy to protect his wife, who has a compromised immune system, from contracting COVID-19. China is currently experiencing a major surge of infections.
Critics have accused the restaurant of discrimination. But the owner maintains he has a right to refuse service and says he has been harassed by groups of Chinese provoked by social media influencers. Police so far have not intervened aside from installing a security camera.
The incident has inflamed ongoing tensions between the countries. Some Japanese netizens applauded the owner for standing up to China. As seen in this image of the supporters:
While Chinese netizens decried the policy as racist. The restaurant continues to refuse Chinese patrons as the owner says he fears for his safety. Although he has since amended the sign to now allow Chinese residents of Japan, with additional signs below:
Officials have not commented on whether any actions will be taken.
Japanese restaurants do have history of refusing service to foreigners, especially those who do not speak Japanese or follow the etiquette.
However, this case is different, as it is based on a specific and controversial criterion that has nothing to do with the quality of the service or the food.