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Foreigners beat coffee shop owner after refused service

Date Posted: 2003-01-17

The refusal of a coffee shop owner to serve a breakfast to three foreign men in Uechi, Okinawa City, resulted in a fistfight Sunday that left one customer with a bruise on his face and the restaurant owner with a black eye.

Okinawa City Police say three foreign men had entered the 24-hour coffee shop early in the morning and asked for breakfast. The owner of the restaurant, who says that he has had trouble with foreign customers in the past, refused service and told the three to leave. His refusal lead to an argument, and as the voices rose, one of the customers tried to intervene. As the customer positioned himself between the shop owner and the foreigners, he was slapped in the face. The three foreigners fled, but the owner of the shop followed and a new fight ensued on the street. After exchanging some blows, the foreigners ran away.

The coffee shop owner called the police and lodged a complaint. The police investigation to the incident continues, but no suspects have been apprehended. The investigators say that they have reason to believe the three were military members, and that they plan to ask military authorities for help.

Although discrimination is illegal in Japan, some shop owners refuse to serve foreigners, claiming that other customers complain. “Foreigners always make trouble, especially late at night or early in the morning. They fight and are loud that that scares my other customers away,” one Okinawa City coffee shop owner explained. When asked about the law prohibiting discrimination he just shrugged, and stated, “if my other customers leave because of these foreigners, I must close the business anyway, so what’s the point.”

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