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Barkers flee Matsuyama as police pressure intensifies

Date Posted: 2008-10-24

Barkers who press people on Matsuyama streets to enter select bars and clubs are migrating to Okinawa City in the wake of intense patrols by Naha City Police.
Strong enforcement of new regulations restricting the barkers, or ‘catchers’ as frustrated businesses call them, has nearly wiped Matsuyama streets clear of the young men with their two-way radios and cell phones that pestered passers-by to “come drink in our bar. We have very beautiful girls working, and prices are very reasonable.” The laws now prohibit such street activity, and police have waged a strong clean-up campaign the past few months to arrest offenders.

It’s worked, as businesses in Okinawa City’s Nakanomachi area report an influx of 50 or more young men wearing white shirts and black pants, talking shop and pressuring its patrons to visit certain bars and clubs. One of the catchers says he and others moved from Matsuyama to Okinawa City because “Matsuyama area has too many police patrolling.”

He predicted, though, that police patrols and enforcement will soon follow to Okinawa City, “so we have to keep our manners and be nice.” The director of a Nakanomachi area business association says “the catchers are now escaping quickly. When police try to arrest them, they’re gone already.” The director says “we need strict regulation for them, just like Matsuyama did.

A restaurant association official says “we have to act in a developmental way and keep our town clean. Catches are too noisy, and present too much a bad image.”

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