Japanese Shop Owner Tries to Ban Chinese Tourists Over Coronavirus Fears

A shop owner in Japan has put up a sign banning Chinese people from entering over fears that he could become infected with the new coronavirus strain which broke out in China, infecting hundred of people and leaving several dead.

The sign placed at the front of the confectionary shop in the mountain town of Hakone reads: "No Chinese are allowed to enter. I do not want them to spread the virus."

The owner—who has not been identified—said he created the sign in Chinese using a translation app and put it up last week in order to protect himself, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

"Ill-mannered Chinese tourists have caused trouble in my store," he told Shimbun. "I want to protect myself against the coronavirus. I don't want Chinese tourists to enter."

After images of the sign were shared online, some Chinese social media users expressed their dislike, with some even contacting the shop owner to demand an apology, according to Shimbun.

In response, the owner said he would put up a new sign, although it would still contain a message banning Chinese people from the shop.

"I'll rewrite the sign and refrain from using expressions that may cause controversy," he said.

新型肺炎を理由に「中国人は入店禁止」 箱根の駄菓子店 https://t.co/5FKSa29XXx

— 朝日新聞(asahi shimbun) (@asahi) January 21, 2020

According to an announcement by China's National Health Commission on Wednesday, 471 people have been infected with the new coronavirus strain—known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)—with nine deaths reported. These infections were spread across 13 Chinese provinces.

Cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, Japan and The Republic of Korea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this week, the CDC announced the first case of the infection in the United States—a traveler returning to Washington state from the city of Wuhan in China where an outbreak of pneumonia caused by the virus has been ongoing since December.

In Japan, only one case of the virus has been confirmed. However, the Japanese health ministry has informed officials at the country's ports to stay on the lookout for anyone who may be displaying symptoms of the virus, the South China Morning Post reported.

Japan coronavirus
A passenger walks past a notice for passengers from Wuhan, China displayed near a quarantine station at Narita airport on January 17, 2020 in Narita, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The Chinese Lunar New Year Holiday begins on January 24, and this is usually a popular time for Chinese tourists to go on vacation in Japan. However, officials fear that the sign incident may affect tourism in Hakone—which is renowned for its hot springs—the Shimbun reported.

In a statement provided to the Shimbun, the Hakone Tourist Information Centre expressed regret over the sign, saying: "There are already many Chinese tourists in Hakone and it's a popular spot for them to visit because it can be reached in a day trip from Tokyo. But we have been made aware of this shop and the sign. It is only one shop, but still we are very sorry and can only apologize to Chinese visitors."

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, some strains of which cause diseases such as MERS and SARS. Among the symptoms of the new coronavirus are fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.