Pachinko machines are used for entertainment and gambling. They are like pinball and slot machines. There are nearly 12,480 parlors in cities, towns, and villages across Japan, according to Japan’s Amusement Allied Enterprise Association. Businessmen, housewives, and students sit intense and motionless at the parlors.
The industry is an economic force. It employs about 300,000, which is more than many industries the country, said the Pachinko Trusty Board. Regular enthusiasts spent about 21.1 trillion yen (247 billion dollars) in 2009, reported the Pachinko-Pachisuro Jyohoujima.
Ishihara, 78, who won his fourth four-year-term on April 4, wants to do away with the parlors.
“It is crazy that pachinko wastes so much electricity, we’d better re-think it,” Ishihara said in his victory speech. “Japanese electricity consumption system is abnormal. It uses almost 1000kWh for pachinko and vending machines combined, which are not really needed. It is not enough that the government asks Japanese people to reduce energy consumption. The government should enact a government order.”
After his comments, pachinko stocks fluctuated, and some pachinko parlors took down their kitsch ads, which hang on the entrance and the wall of the building.
Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures, which account for 40 percent of Japan’s economic output, had rolling blackouts in the weeks after Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which took out almost one-fourth of Tokyo Electric’s generating capacity. Many users and companies have been finding ways to curb power use, including changes in working hours and working days.
Comments on the Internet
The majority of people on social platforms were supportive of Isihara’s comments, although some were against them. The biggest digital bulletin board service in Japan, “Ni-Cannel (Channel 2)” provided feedback to the governor’s remarks. The names of the people were not given on the sites.
“I think it was right, that’s why I voted for him. We should punish all parlors.”
“I haven’t heard such a good strategy in such a long time.”
“Parlors are unnecessary right now. They are waste of electricity.”
However, there were a few against Ishihara’s statements.
“It is the worst form of authority because he’s beating up on an industry he doesn’t like.”
According to a Twitter survey on April 4, out of 285 respondents, 274 clicked in favor and 10 clicked against Ishihara’s comments.
“I really understood what he said.”
Ishihara also targeted vending machines. He said they used up too much electricity and something needs to be done about them as well. Many Internet users agreed with him.
“It is very strange in Japan that vending machines are so bright at midnight.”
“I don’t like the Governor of Tokyo, Ishihara. However, he’s right; we have to change our lifestyle.”
Some of the comments were bigoted.
“A big question is why Japan and her people have to sacrifice themselves for the Korean operating pachinko parlors, sucking up an enormous amount of money for the benefit of the Korean peninsula while Japanese have to endure rolling blackouts. We should ban them all.”
Again, there were some against his remarks.
“It is necessary to verify data. I want him to think how many people are influenced by his remarks.”
Renho Murata, the state minister in charge of consumer affairs, who is commonly known by her first name, Renho, countered Isihara’s argument at a cabinet meeting on April 13.
“Of course, we need to save energy, but also he must have the wisdom not to put up obstacles that would harm Japan’s economic recovery,” she said.
Renho then noted that the soft drink industry generates sales of 4.5 trillion yen (55.147 billion dollars) and vending machines account for 42%, 1.9 trillion yen (22.6 billion dollars), of these sales.
“Do we sweep the vending machines away? she asked. “Then, I’m afraid for the employees, too.”
The Association of Vending Machines said it was cutting its use of power.
“The vending machine industry has already taken measures to cut 90 percent of its electric power at peak times.”
Meanwhile, Kosuke Fukaya, an employee of a pachinko parlor in Saitama, is not concerned.
“My co-workers are not worried about the influence of Isihara’s remarks,” he said. “There is no big difference between before Ishihara’s comments and after. Though, we reduced electricity such as air conditioning and reduced our operational hours. Customers are still lining up in the morning before we open as usual.”
Of some Japanese social platforms, he says, “There are always many people against our business, so it is no wonder they were inspired by his remark this time.”
Majirox Web site Disclaimer: We have attempted to provide an accurate translation of the original Japanese material in English, but due to the difficulties of translating slang and nuances in the language slight differences may exist.