Restaurant firm sues Tokyo for early closure order

A restaurant operator has sued Tokyo for ordering the company to shorten its outlets' business operating hours as part of special anti-coronavirus measures.

Global-Dining filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court on Monday, claiming the order was illegal and based on legislation that violates the constitution.

The firm says that last Thursday, the metropolitan government ordered its 26 establishments in Tokyo to close for business by 8 p.m. But government officials say the restaurants stayed open beyond that time, increasing infection risks and possibly inducing other businesses to continue operating.

Global-Dining is seeking compensation from Tokyo. It says the legislation violates the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of business and equality under the law, and that the order was illegal.

The order, as well as a state of emergency that was in effect in Tokyo until Sunday, was based on revised legislation.

The president of the firm, Hasegawa Kozo, has told reporters that there have been no clusters of infections at the establishments. He said the firm is certain that staying open beyond 8 p.m. posed no danger to society or restaurant customers.

A lawyer for the plaintiff, Kuramochi Rintaro, said there has been no review on whether the declaration of the state of emergency was necessary.

The lawyer added that the team hopes the suit will help convey the voices of people affected by political decisions that are based on weak legal grounds.

A metropolitan government official has declined to comment, saying it has not received the complaint yet.

Governor Koike Yuriko told reporters that the Tokyo Metropolitan government followed proper legal procedures when issuing the order. She added that the government always takes care when deciding on requests.