Japan PM apologises for controversial request on alcohol ban

Yoshihide Suga

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologised on Wednesday for a controversial request to liquor wholesalers, Xinhua reported, quoting local media report on Wednesday.

Liquor wholesalers had been ordered to stop selling alcohol to pubs that that defy anti-coronavirus measures banning the serving of alcohol, which received a strong objection.

The Japanese government has scrapped this request. “The request has already been withdrawn. I would like to apologise for causing so much trouble to so many people,” said the prime minister.

Asked whether he was briefed in advance about the details of the request, Suga said he had not discussed the matter.

The prime minister added that it was crucial to take measures such as giving subsidies to pubs and restaurants to encourage them to stop serving alcohol in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plan had received criticism not only from liquor dealers and opposition parties, but also from within the ruling coalition.

The criticism came when the minister in charge of the Covid-19 response drew back another plan this week earlier which called on financial institutions to order businesses to abide by Covid-19 restrictions.

Opposition parties said Cabinet members would be grilled on Wednesday. They criticised that Suga’s governance had been pushing businesses already struck hard by the pandemic. – Bernama