The lights of the historic Hanamachi have been extinguished once again.
On November 1, about 30 establishments operating in the area closed their doors at once. The cause was a warning letter issued jointly by the mayor of Amagasaki City and the chief of the Amagasaki Minami Police Station of the Hyogo Prefectural Police, demanding that the businesses be suspended for violating the Entertainment Business Law.
The suddenness of the situation has left those involved in the business perplexed. A female business owner lamented.
A female business owner lamented, “At 2:00 p.m. on the first day, they suddenly gathered us at a nearby hall, handed us a sheet of paper, and that was it. That’s all it took for them to say, ‘You can’t open for business from today. It seems that standing bars and pubs are allowed, but only the mothers who own the stores are allowed to do so. Rent is expensive if you rent, so I had no choice but to leave. What’s next? I don’t know what to do. I guess I should think I’m lucky that I wasn’t arrested.
One weekend in late October last year, FRIDAY reported on Kannami-shinchi, where the spread of corona infection had settled down and the number of customers had returned. At the time, when I visited the restaurant just before it opened, about 40 customers, mostly young people in their 20s and 30s, were passing through the streets. However, on the weekend when the warning letter was issued, the doors of all the stores were closed and there were no customers. The only thing shining forlornly was a light at the entrance that read “Welcome.
In the past seventy years, there had never been a large-scale crackdown on the business. So why was this done now?
It is said that it was the mayor of Amagasaki, Kazumi Inamura, who took the initiative. In order to change the image of Amagasaki and to create a city where it is easy to raise children, Mayor Inamura was known for his hard-line stance against adult entertainment businesses and anti-social forces. He was not happy about the Kannami Shinchi either, but he had not been able to get a foothold. This year, however, the prefectural police confirmed the fact that several stores had been operating despite the declaration of a state of emergency. Based on this, they are said to have decided to suspend operations.
It is said that the authorities were also considerate of the timing of the suspension. An official of the prefectural police told us.
A prefectural police official told us, “The timing was chosen because we thought that the damage to the stores would be minimized now that the number of customers has not completely recovered since the emergency declaration. It has been pointed out that the closure is related to the Osaka World Exposition to be held in 2013, but this is not the case.
How will Kannami Shinchi be reborn after the simultaneous closure of the stores? It seems that it will take some time for the area to regain its liveliness.
From “FRIDAY” November 26, 2021 issue