• Kyodo


Crowdfunding projects are spreading nationwide to help restaurants in crisis cope with drastic declines in business caused by social distancing and other precautions being taken to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 80 percent of the nation’s eateries saw their February sales drop from a year earlier, and the monthlong national state of emergency declared Tuesday is expected to exacerbate the situation, according to a foundation supporting small businesses.

In Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, a local advertising agency started a crowdfunding project backed by Kashiwa City Hall to aid more than 100 eateries.

Interested individuals can buy tickets good for meals at restaurants of their choice once the pandemic subsides, or make donations in principle above ¥30,000 ($280) via credit card through an online site linked to the city’s website. The meal tickets are priced between ¥3,000 and ¥10,000.

The project will last until May 10, after which the accrued money will be distributed to the eateries. Around ¥8 million had been collected from about 680 individuals as of Friday noon.

The meal tickets are currently planned for use between June and November.

“If our eateries sector doesn’t fare well, it will affect others like our processing and agricultural industries,” said a city official managing the project. “We hope that it will spur customers to dine out after the situation over the coronavirus calms down.”

Similar crowdfunding projects are being launched by restaurant operators in cities where residents have been urged to stay home on weekends, such as Nagoya and Sendai, as well as Kushiro in Hokkaido.

In Kushiro, a crowdfunding project from March 13 to April 3 drew contributions of more than ¥10 million from around 550 people.

Ryota Ono, 42, who founded the project, said he is grateful to the donors for helping the region, saying their assistance provides “emotional support.”

“An increasing number of initiatives to help encourage eateries have been taken since many people have refrained from dining out but want to help these businesses,” a representative of crowdfunding platform Readyfor Inc. said.

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