• Kyodo

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The gathering of finance chiefs from the Group of Eight nations slated for July 8 in Fukuoka is likely to temporarily slow the local economy as police curtail business activities for security reasons, local industrialists said Thursday.

Posh local hotels, where delegates from the G8 nations will stay, have agreed to requests from the Fukuoka Prefectural Police not to allow ordinary customers in their restaurants and banquet rooms for a certain period of time, hotel officials said.

The Fukuoka summit of finance ministers and central bankers from the G8 nations will precede the July 21-23 Okinawa G8 summit, whose agenda will cover both economic and political issues.

The Hotel Okura Fukuoka, where delegates from Japan, Germany, and two other nations will stay, “will be transformed into a sort of local Finance Ministry bureau,” a source close to the hotel said.

The hotel has agreed to ban ordinary customers from restaurants, banquet halls and other facilities from 3 p.m. on July 7 until noon on July 9, hotel officials said.

The three days coincide with the local “Hakata Gion Yamagasa” festival which annually draws thousands of tourists to the large commercial city.

Since the summit has prompted the police to take security measures, including the effective closure of restaurants and banquet rooms except for those to be used by summit delegates, it will strip the hotels of the handsome revenues they could otherwise have earned, they said.

“Our hotel and others will not be able to gain many business benefits, except for the honor of having our city selected as the venue of the summit,” the source said.

The police have also won the consent of local taxi companies and self-employed cab drivers in the city of Fukuoka to reduce taxi traffic by 40 percent on July 8, industry officials said.

As a result, some 2,400 taxis, or 40 percent of the 6,000 cabs owned by local taxi companies and self-employed cab drivers, will stay off the roads on the day, the officials said.

“There is no rationale for the prefectural police’s demand that we stay off the roads that day,” a taxi driver said. “There will still be demand for our services from taxi users.”

Department stores in downtown Tenjin, the biggest shopping area in the southern island of Kyushu itself, said they have received a police request not to take advantage of the summit by holding “commemorative” bargain sales campaigns.

Tatsuta Goto, chief of the Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, however, “Although the police have requested strict security measures, bringing the summit to a successful conclusion will help boost the international profile of the city of Fukuoka.”