Tokyo restaurant chain withdraws appeal for COVID restrictions case

A Tokyo-based restaurant chain operator revealed Tuesday it had withdrawn an appeal for a court case in which it demanded damages against the Tokyo metropolitan government for ordering business hours be reduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement by Global Dining Inc., which runs dozens of restaurants, finalizes the ruling in May by the Tokyo District Court outlining that the order had been illegal, but that Tokyo Gov. Koike Yuriko, who had made the order, was not at fault.

The restaurant operator made the decision to withdraw "as it had become increasingly likely that a request to cross-examine Gov. Koike would be turned down," the plaintiff's lawyer Rintaro Kuramochi said during a press conference in Tokyo.

During the first oral proceedings at the Tokyo High Court on Tuesday, the metropolitan government claimed an examination of the governor was "unnecessary," while Presiding Judge Yasushi Kanokogi expressed his intention to decide following subsequent hearings.

Following last year's revision to a coronavirus special measures law, prefectures could order restaurants and other businesses to cut their operating hours during a state of emergency if they defied the initial request without a valid reason.

Restaurants operated by Global-Dining were among 2,000 establishments that did not comply with a request to close by 8 p.m. under a COVID-19 state of emergency issued in early January in the Tokyo area and other prefectures, according to the plaintiff's side.

© Kyodo News