On 16 May 2022, the Tokyo District Court declared unlawful certain restrictions issued against restaurateurs by Tokyo Prefectures and other neighboring districts in March 2021, during the state of emergency declared in January 2021 for the containment and management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, the restrictions declared unlawful concerned the opening and closing hours of catering establishments. The plaintiff, manager of a chain of over 2,000 restaurants, complained that the fundamental right to conduct a business, guaranteed by the Constitution, had been violated. The court upheld 75 per cent of the grievance, stating that the restrictive measures at issue were not effective in containing the infection, but only penalized the operators in the sector who had made all the necessary investments to ensure safety on the premises and in any case; moreover, according to the court, these restrictions did not comply with the statutory requirement that they be issued only when 'particularly necessary' and that they had had 'only a slight effect on infection control' since they were issued only a few days before the lifting of the state of emergency. However, the court also rejected the restaurant owner's claim for alleged negligence on the part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Governor, as he had allowed the disobedient companies to explain their positions.