A hotel in central Tokyo sparked outrage on social media ahead of the Tokyo 2020 games for a poorly worded sign in front of its elevators. The sign read "Japanese only" and "foreigners only" but have since been removed. The management of Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu have also stepped up to apologise.
The hotel officials also explained that the signs were initially put up to make it easier for patrons but ended up causing a misunderstanding. They were also put up as officials and organisers of Tokyo 2020 asked hoteliers to ensure guests coming in for the games remained separate from those staying in hotels, according to Reuters.
Japan Times also reported on the situation, stating that the signs were put up following measures in response to the guidelines provided by the organising committee of the Olympics and Paralympics to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The four elevators were meant to be split into two units for local Japanese customers and another two for foreigners.
The measure was met with a barrage of criticism on various Japanese platforms, such as Twitter and Yahoo! forums.
One user called for the immediate removal of the sticker, calling it "Reiwa's Jim Crow" and that "nationality does not matter to the virus".
Another Twitter user called in to the hotel directly to inform them of the segregatory message it projected and documented his experience in a Twitter thread. He said that Japan as a whole "may not have been accustomed to the issue of institutionalised discrimination", and appealed to all in the hospitality industry to be more aware.
A check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE found that a Twitter user has updated on Hotel Tokyu’s sign, showing that the term “foreigners only” has been replaced with “foreigner priority”. The Twitter user said in a tweet: “this is hardly an improvement. (The hotel) doesn’t seem to understand what the problem is at all. This is ridiculous.”
With two weeks to the Games, Tokyo has gone into a fourth COVID-19 state of emergency, with the measure to last until 22 August. This period will cover the duration of the Tokyo Olympics and the Games are now set to be held behind closed doors, with the organisers banning all spectators in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The decision made on 8 July came hours after the state of emergency announcement, amidst ongoing concern among the Japanese public regarding going ahead with the Games during the pandemic and rising cases.