TOKYO — Sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga is folding his Tokyo noodle ramen shop after 15 years in December, unable to overcome the prospect of a lasting customer slump due to the coronavirus crisis.
“The flow of people has changed due to the coronavirus,” Haga said, standing behind the counter of his ground-floor shop, Shirohachi. “Customers aren’t coming in and queuing up outside shops any longer.”
The pandemic is damaging Japan’s “mom-and-pop” restaurants—including noodle shops like Haga’s—at a growing rate, despite evidence the government’s massive effort to stave off bankruptcies is working in other sectors of the economy.
Hurt by deflationary pressures and growing competition in the run-up to the now-delayed Tokyo Olympics, noodle bars are particularly prone to the economic malaise the pandemic triggered in the service sector.
Small and mid-sized businesses like Haga’s noodle bar employ about 70% of Japan’s workers and account for 99.7% of the total number of … Read the rest...