After-hours dinner party serves up scandal for Japanese ministry

March 30, 2021
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Japan’s Health Ministry was trying to contain a scandal that irked the country after it came to light that ministry officials violated Coronavirus regulations with an extended dinner in Tokyo’s luxury district.

The scandal focuses on 23 civil servants who attended a party in a restaurant that lasted until midnight.

Although many Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in the Japanese capital, restaurants and bars are still required to close by 9 p.m. as part of the effort to keep case counts under control.

Health Minister Norihisa Tamura took to the airwaves on Tuesday to apologise for the fact that members of his department had betrayed the trust of the people.

The Health Ministry has been the front-line agency in fighting the pandemic in Japan and was responsible for the roll-out of the country’s vaccination programme, which has been progressing slowly compared to those in some other countries.

Additionally, it has been trying to enforce policies under which people gather in groups of no more than four people for dinners and try to limit contacts to close families and colleagues.

The fact that 23 ministry employees gathered in a restaurant for a party last week some without masks was an “abnormally high number and a big problem,’’ the minister said.

A review was now under way as to whether other ministry employees have also engaged in any late-night festivities.

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