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COVID-19 safety measures in Japan: Restaurant operator sues Tokyo city for 'hypocrisy'

Kozo Hasegawa, the operator of 43 restaurants including one that inspired the movie “Kill Bill: Volume I,” is contesting the constitutionality of the measures and said that reports of bureaucrats going out at night proves they do not believe in the protocols either.

March 31, 2021 / 10:14 AM IST
Kozo Hasegawa is the operator of 43 restaurants including one that inspired the movie “Kill Bill: Volume

Kozo Hasegawa is the operator of 43 restaurants including one that inspired the movie “Kill Bill: Volume


A Tokyo restaurant operator suing the city for mandating shorter business hours decried the “hypocrisy” of health officials who flout the government’s own COVID-19 contagion protocols.


Kozo Hasegawa, the operator of 43 restaurants including one that inspired the movie “Kill Bill: Volume I,” is contesting the constitutionality of the measures and said that reports of bureaucrats going out at night proves they do not believe in the protocols either.


“They don’t think that it’s really dangerous for them to go out and drink,” Hasegawa, the president of Global-Dining Inc told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s hypocrisy.”


The episode illustrates the growing economic strain from measures to contain the epidemic, with government data showing retail sales in Japan fell for the third straight month in February.


Restaurants in the capital region have been particularly hard hit. Although greater Tokyo area lifted a state of emergency earlier this month, it is enforcing fines against eateries that do not close by 9 p.m.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Health Minister Norihisa Tamura apologised on Tuesday after media reports that 23 ministry employees had held a late-night party at a pub in the Ginza district of Tokyo.


COVID-19 infections are down from their peak but they have trended up in recent days, raising fears of a possible fourth wave.


Hasegawa says the business restrictions are unscientific and unfair. His legal team has crowdsourced more than 17 million yen ($154,615) for legal costs and is seeking just 104 yen in damages.


Most health experts say that an adherence to hygiene rules and social distancing have helped Japan keep overall COVID-19 cases and deaths relatively low, without the kind of rigid lockdowns seen in other countries.

A Tokyo Metropolitan Government representative declined to comment on Global-Dining’s lawsuit. The health ministry did not immediately respond when asked for comment.



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Reuters
first published: Mar 31, 2021 10:07 am
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