Japan court dismisses eatery's lawsuit over COVID-related reputational damage

A district court in western Japan has denied a ramen noodle restaurant compensation for coronavirus-related reputational damage.

In July 2020, when Japan was in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Tokushima Prefecture made public the name of a ramen noodle restaurant where a person, who was later confirmed as the prefecture's 20th coronavirus case, dropped in.

The restaurant filed a lawsuit seeking 11 million yen, or about 84,400 dollars, in compensation from the prefectural government. The restaurant claimed it suffered serious reputational damage after its name was released without consent.

In handing down his ruling on Wednesday, Presiding Judge Shimato Shin of the Tokushima District Court said that a rapid spread of the coronavirus infection was a concern in the prefecture at the time and containing the pandemic was an urgent matter.

The judge said the purpose of making the restaurant's name publicly known is legitimate and doing so was urgently needed.

He also said the prefectural government only stated the objective fact, and it is clear that the prefecture did not damage the restaurant's reputation or mislead people to believe that eating there had a risk of infection.