As the coronavirus takes its toll on the economy, the government's huge stimulus package has come under fire from hard-hit restaurant owners for channelling funds to promote items like wagyu, melons and tourism rather than accelerating help for firms with burning cash needs.

The industry's struggles highlight a larger problem in the revival plan, which at more than ¥230 trillion is the size of Italy's economy but still falling short of sufficient support for an important segment — the small businesses that employ 70 percent of the nation's workforce.

That puts Japan's recovery from its worst modern recession at risk. The $232 billion (¥25.3 trillion) restaurant industry is crucial to boosting growth as it, together with the lodging industry, creates about 1.3 million new jobs a year, or roughly 17 percent of all the new employment.