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Tobita Shinchi brothels reopen after coronavirus shutdown

OSAKA (TR) – For some, it is a sign that things are finally edging back toward normalcy.

The brothels in the Tobita Shinchi red-light district in Osaka City are reopening nearly two months after they were asked to shut due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

On May 28, the Tobita Shinchi cooperative union sent a letter to all 160 members indicating that they can reopen on Monday.

Located in Nishinari Ward, Tobita Shinchi consists of alleys of brightly lit two-floor ryotei structures. In the first-floor doorway of each establishment sits a woman attired in revealing clothing. Next to her is an elderly female proprietor who verbally solicits clients.

Over a four-day period beginning on May 24, all employees were tested for the antibody of the coronavirus. There were no positive results, according to the union.

Testing kits will be provided to the member brothels each month beginning in June. The establishments are expected to receive 500,000 yen each to cover testing costs.

The brothels in Matsushima Shinchi, located in Nishi Ward, were also allowed to reopen on Monday.

Tobita Shinchi shut on April 3

On April 3, the Tobita Shinchi cooperative union asked that all the establishments shut their doors in an effort to restrict the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

Four days later, prime minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency. It was lifted last week.

The closure of the district was the third in its history. Last June, the establishments shut during the Group of 20 summit.

On February 24, 1989, the district shut down was for the funeral of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.

For the APEC summit in 1995, the establishments remained open but the female proprietors were not present in the doorways, a move that was done, observers at the time said, so as to not not give “the wrong impression” to foreign visitors.