Japan restaurant bans couples on Christmas Eve
Tokyo restaurant claims that singles would be reminded of their loneliness by happy couples
A restaurant in Tokyo has announced that it will refuse to serve couples on Christmas Eve because their happiness would serve to remind single members of staff of their loneliness.
The owner of PiaPia, a pasta restaurant in the Hachioji suburb of west Tokyo, has placed a handwritten sign in the window of the restaurant that reads, "We will be refusing entry to all couples on December 24, with no exceptions!"
The message is accompanied by an outline of a male figure in blue and a female figure in red and a heart with a large red cross through the image.
The message suggests that the presence of couples would upset employees having to work on Christmas Eve, stating that romantic duos "would cause severe emotional trauma to members of our staff".
Takashi Kyozuka, an employee of PiaPia, told The Telegraph that the sign was put in the window because singles would "feel sad that they are by themselves".
"To start with, someone said we should ban couples as a bit of a joke, but then we realised that it's true," he said. "If you are single on Christmas Eve, then it's easy to get down."
Christmas is not celebrated in Japan and is a regular working day ahead of the traditional celebrations centred on the New Year. In recent years, however, Christmas Eve has become an important occasion for young couples to exchange gifts and have a meal together, even if they are largely unaware of the religious significance of the holiday.
But Japan is experiencing a couples crisis, with people getting married later in life and having fewer children, meaning that the nation's birth rate is in decline at the same time as older people are living longer thanks to advances in medicine.
The population of Japan currently stands at 126.6 million, although 25 per cent of that total are aged 65 or older, an increase of 1.12 million people on the fiscal 2012 figure. Equally, the fertility rate of 1.41 babies per woman during her lifetime means there are not enough babies being born to sustain the population at its present levels.
If those trends continue, the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research has warned that there will be a mere 49.59 million Japanese by 2100, a decline of more than 61 per cent on the 2010 figure.
Nevertheless, commentators on social media sites are largely applauding the restaurant's stand against couples, with messages on Twitter and other sites proclaiming, "Good move boss! I support you!" and "I wish all restaurants would ban couples on Christmas Eve".