Tokyo, March 22 (Jiji Press)–Restaurant chain Global-Dining Inc. <7625> sued the Tokyo metropolitan government Monday in what is believed to be Japan’s first damages lawsuit over an early closure order issued to combat the novel coronavirus.
In the suit, filed with Tokyo District Court, Global-Dining claimed that the metropolitan government illegally ordered some of the group’s restaurants to shorten their opening hours.
According to the complaint, the metropolitan government Thursday ordered 26 group restaurants to close from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following day, citing the revised special measures law to fight novel coronavirus and other epidemics.
Prior to that, Global-Dining President Kozo Hasegawa claimed online that the company would not be able to maintain its business or employment if it was not allowed to open beyond 8 p.m.
In the early closure order, the metropolitan government said the company was “likely to lead other eating and drinking establishments to open beyond 8 p.m. as it strongly publicized its refusal to follow the measure under the state of emergency,” according to the complaint.
Tokyo was among the last remaining areas under the country’s second COVID-19 emergency, which was fully lifted Sunday.
Global-Dining claimed that the order was issued to make an example out of the company for objecting to the metropolitan government’s policy.
The special measures law includes excessive regulations, and the order goes against the Constitution, which stipulates equality under law, the company also said.
Global-Dining is seeking compensation of 1 yen per affected restaurant per day, for a total 104 yen, as the lawsuit is meant partly to raise issues.
The metropolitan government’s disaster prevention division declined to comment, saying it has not received the complaint.
At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Article 45 of the special measures law, which provides for early closure orders, does not violate the Constitution.
Measures that can be taken under the law are limited to the reasonable range deemed necessary to prevent infections, therefore posing only the minimum necessary level of restrictions to the freedom and rights of the people, Kato added.