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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Japanese firms in Hong Kong jittery over protest escalation

  • August 15, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 8:36 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Aug. 15 (Jiji Press) — Japanese companies operating in Hong Kong are increasingly worried about the effects on their businesses of massive protests gripping the city.

The Foreign Ministry issued a Level 1 travel warning on Wednesday, calling on travelers to the territory to be very careful.

The protests, over a bill to allow extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, have led to clashes with police, putting a damper on retail sales and threatening those on business trips in the region.

Japanese financial institutions with branches in the international financial hub are wary of conducting business in the area.

MUFG Bank, a unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., has instructed its employees not to make business trips to Hong Kong that are unnecessary and nonurgent. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. is stepping up efforts to confirm the whereabouts of employees in the area on business trips.

Some companies have instructed employees to work at home if their safety cannot be guaranteed, as public transport systems in Hong Kong have been disrupted by the chaos.

Major “gyudon” beef-on-rice bowl restaurant operator Yoshinoya Holdings Co., which has 61 outlets in the territory, mainly in downtown districts, saw a steep decline in sales for July. A Yoshinoya public relations official said that the damage is large as the region has one of the biggest customer bases in the world.

A Sogo department store near Causeway Bay was forced to temporarily shut as the outlet, run by Sogo & Seibu Co., is close to Victoria Park, the starting point for many protest marches.

Flights to and from Hong Kong International Airport have been delayed or canceled due to sit-in protests. Although flight operations have returned to normal, an official of Japan Airlines <9201> called on passengers to keep checking updated information on its website and arrive at the airport early.

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