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Tokyo nights

by MARI YAMAGUCHI AND KIICHIRO SATO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | June 10, 2021 at 3:50 a.m.
Quiet Ginza shopping district is seen after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO -- Covid-19 cases are still high and hospitals remain under strain despite a state of emergency as Japan marked 50 days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

But the city's nightlife continues almost as usual as people in one of the world's least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy the largely toothless emergency measures.

Trains are packed with people who dine after work or shopping until restaurants close -- now at 8 p.m. under the emergency measures. In streets and parks, young people drink cans of beer and eat snack food because bars are closed.

Japan has never enforced a hard coronavirus lockdown but has managed to keep its number of illnesses and deaths lower than many advanced countries. It toughened a law requiring business owners to close early, with compensation for cooperation and fines for violators, but measures for the general public remain merely requests and are increasingly ignored.

The state of emergency in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas has been extended twice since late April. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga remains determined to host the Olympics, already postponed for a year and has extended the current emergency until June 20, a month before the games are to start.

Suga faces declining support and growing protests from the public, which widely opposes hosting the Olympic during the pandemic.

Under the emergency measures, restaurants cannot serve alcohol and must close at 8 p.m. But people can always find bars that are still open and packed with customers.

In Kabukicho, a leading evening entertainment district, neon lights on the main gate to the area are turned off, but bars along the streets are bustling and brightly lit.

The 8 p.m. closing time has created a new rush hour for Tokyo.

Many people stay until restaurants that comply with the shorter hours close and head home on crowded trains. Once the rush hour ends, there is a long line of taxis waiting for people who find places that remain open.

Long lines of taxis wait for customers at street of Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, after the 8pm government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Long lines of taxis wait for customers at street of Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, after the 8pm government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Some passengers try to squeeze themselves into a train after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency in Tokyo Monday, May 31, 2021. The 8 p.m. closing time under the emergency has created a new rush hour in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Some passengers try to squeeze themselves into a train after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency in Tokyo Monday, May 31, 2021. The 8 p.m. closing time under the emergency has created a new rush hour in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People walk across a traffic intersection as a long line of teaxis wait for customers on a street in the famed Ginza shopping district, where most of the businesses including restaurants, bars and clubs have already closed for the evening under an extended state of emergency in Tokyo on Monday, May 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People walk across a traffic intersection as a long line of teaxis wait for customers on a street in the famed Ginza shopping district, where most of the businesses including restaurants, bars and clubs have already closed for the evening under an extended state of emergency in Tokyo on Monday, May 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People gather on a street corner in the famed Kabukicho, a night entertainment district in downtown Tokyo, Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency. In Tokyo, life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People gather on a street corner in the famed Kabukicho, a night entertainment district in downtown Tokyo, Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency. In Tokyo, life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People walk through the famed Kabukicho, a night entertainment district in downtown Tokyo, Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency. In Tokyo, life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People walk through the famed Kabukicho, a night entertainment district in downtown Tokyo, Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency. In Tokyo, life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus wait at a crosswalk Monday evening, May 31, 2021, in Tokyo. Life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus wait at a crosswalk Monday evening, May 31, 2021, in Tokyo. Life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
One of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government staff tries to hand out a face mask to a pedestrian as a group of government staff urges people to go home from the Kabukicho entertainment district in the Shinjuku area n Tokyo Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
One of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government staff tries to hand out a face mask to a pedestrian as a group of government staff urges people to go home from the Kabukicho entertainment district in the Shinjuku area n Tokyo Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Staff from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government urge people to go home from the Kabukicho entertainment district in the Shinjuku area n Tokyo Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Staff from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government urge people to go home from the Kabukicho entertainment district in the Shinjuku area n Tokyo Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People walk under the main gate to Kabukicho, a night entertainment district in downtown Tokyo, Friday, May 28, 2021, as neon lights on the gate to the area are turned off, but bars along the streets are bustling and brightly lit after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential retail businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People walk under the main gate to Kabukicho, a night entertainment district in downtown Tokyo, Friday, May 28, 2021, as neon lights on the gate to the area are turned off, but bars along the streets are bustling and brightly lit after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential retail businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus wait at a crosswalk Monday evening, May 31, 2021, in Tokyo. Life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus wait at a crosswalk Monday evening, May 31, 2021, in Tokyo. Life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as people in one of the world’s least vaccinated countries show increasing signs of frustration and defy largely toothless emergency measures.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Staff from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government urge people to go home from the Kabukicho entertainment district in the Shinjuku area n Tokyo Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and retail businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Staff from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government urge people to go home from the Kabukicho entertainment district in the Shinjuku area n Tokyo Friday, May 28, 2021, after the 8 p.m. suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and retail businesses under the state of emergency measure. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
People consume drinks at a bar after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time under the state of emergency Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Tokyo. Under the measure, restaurants cannot serve alcohol and must close at 8 p.m. But people can always find bars that are open and packed with customers. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People consume drinks at a bar after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time under the state of emergency Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Tokyo. Under the measure, restaurants cannot serve alcohol and must close at 8 p.m. But people can always find bars that are open and packed with customers. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk at the famed Shibuya scramble crosswalk in Tokyo, Monday evening, May 31, 2021. Life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as COVID-19 cases are still high and hospitals remain under strain despite a state of emergency on Thursday as Japan marks 50 days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.  (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk at the famed Shibuya scramble crosswalk in Tokyo, Monday evening, May 31, 2021. Life in the evening is continuing almost as usual as COVID-19 cases are still high and hospitals remain under strain despite a state of emergency on Thursday as Japan marks 50 days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People line up to be seated for a bar after in Tokyo, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People line up to be seated for a bar after in Tokyo, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, after the 8 p.m. government suggested closing time for restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses under the extended state of emergency in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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