Global fast food giant McDonald’s Japan unit issued an apology on Friday after it was revealed that one of its outlets had posted a notice banning homeless people for more than a year.
The notice, which had triggered an online debate, said staff at the west Tokyo branch “would refuse entry to people deemed improper,” citing poor hygiene and homelessness as examples.
But the fast food giant said that following complaints, the sign had been replaced, and now made no mention of homelessness.
“Even though the purpose of the notice was for other customers to be able to feel comfortable in the outlet, some of the words it used were inappropriate, and we apologise for that,” a company spokesman told AFP.
The new sign states that entry will be refused to those deemed likely to “cause trouble to other customers, such as by making a rumpus with loud voices, sleeping and having poor hygiene”.
The spokesman added that all other outlets in the country had been instructed to ensure notices are free from discriminatory language.
Despite the relative wealth of Japan and its traditional emphasis on family networks, homeless are not an uncommon sight in Japanese cities.
Unlike in many western nations where the homeless tend to be young, the men and women who live on Japan’s streets are overwhelmingly older people.
Sudden corporate downsizing and the disappearance of lifetime employment has created an underclass of men in late middle-age who find themselves virtually unemployable.
Officially, a total of 8,265 people were considered homeless in Japan as of January this year, the welfare ministry said, down 13.7% from a year earlier.