• Reuters, Kyodo


Osaka Prefecture named and shamed three more pachinko parlor gambling outlets that were defying coronavirus lockdown requests on Monday after three out of six locations it identified on Friday subsequently closed.

Hyogo Prefecture also released on Monday the names of six pachinko parlors that have not closed even after being requested to do so.

"A lot of places have closed down after we named the six last week. We are now conducting a survey of pachinko parlors and will announce the results accordingly," a spokesman for Osaka Prefecture said earlier in the day.

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai said Monday the prefecture also plans to announce the names of pachinko parlors that have not followed closure requests made Saturday.

The continued operation of some noisy gambling halls is a conspicuous reminder of limits on the government's ability to “lock down” cities with requests rather than orders backed up with fines.

Japan has shied away from stronger enforcement steps in part because of memories of civil rights abuses during World War II. Protection of such rights are enshrined in the nation's U.S.-drafted postwar Constitution.

The government declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures on April 7, later extending it to the rest of the country.

Pachinko parlors, where players sit back-to-back at long rows of machines that are similar to pinball, are a common sight in Japan and easy for health officials to identify.

"They are big, and we know where they are," said the Osaka Prefecture spokesman. “When it comes to bars and restaurants that are still operating, however, finding them is more difficult.”

Some Twitter users expressed anger at pachinko parlors remaining open, noting that diehard players will drive to neighboring prefectures to play.

"Even a child should be able to understand that those places are breeding grounds for the virus — crowded, closed in, and with close contact," wrote Twitter user Akashinomadai.

"And here I am giving up fishing in the healthy open air in order to fight this disease."

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