Netizens agree it sucks, but don’t agree on who’s to blame.

From 1 October the consumption tax in Japan had risen from 8 percent to 10 percent. While paying extra for stuff is never nice, I have to admit I’m really enjoying the sudden decrease in one-yen coins in my pocket as a result of the newly well-rounded percentage.

▼ It’s like a bunch of tiny weights have been lifted.

Many others aren’t quite as half-glass-full, however, which is probably why the government tried to soften the blow of this tax hike by making certain exemptions. For example, necessities like food bought from supermarkets will retain their 8 percent tax, but “luxuries” like alcohol remain at 10 percent.

However, one strange exemption is that take-out food from restaurants will have a “reduced” (i.e. unchanged) tax at 8 percent, while eat-in orders will be taxed at 10 percent. Restaurants have found various ways to cope with this, such as by adjusting their prices to be equal regardless of the eat-in or take-out tax.

This raises a number of problems for other businesses too though. For example, many convenience stores in Japan have a small counter where customers can sit and eat the bento or coffee they just bought, but should that make them equal to a full-fledged restaurant and held to the same tax standards?

Or in this instance, discovered by Twitter user Kaname Miyagi (@KanameMiyagi), a supermarket with a bench in front felt forced to make a difficult decision and came to the following conclusion:

“For a sales tax reduction, the bench is gone from this supermarket.”

The sign in the store explains that because of the sales tax increase, the bench that once sat in that location could be regarded as an “eat-in” space. This means that any customer who eats on the bench would be technically duty-bound to pay the full 10-percent tax.

This creates a lot of problems, such as the fact that customers probably would have already paid for their food with an eight-percent tax before choosing to use the bench and perhaps snacking on something they got. At that moment, the store feels it is either responsible for paying the remaining balance themselves, or the store would have to go and demand the two percent from the customer.

▼ Bench enthusiasts, such as our own Mr. Sato, can sometimes be quite intimidating.

Envisioning the confusion this would cause, the supermarket decided to just get rid of the bench altogether. While this eliminates the aforementioned problems, not having a bench at all certainly isn’t an ideal solution, and many netizens expressed their outrage at the store for it.

“Just get rid of the much needed bench, to avoid a slightly awkward situation. Problem solved!”
“The supermarket is willing to make customers suffer in order to save a little money.”
“All they have to do is put a NO EATING sticker on it. Are they dumb?”
“When I’m shopping with my parents these benches are very important. They need to take a rest.”

“They aren’t even considering the customers, they’re just thinking about themselves.”

While many felt the supermarket was acting callously, others directed their anger at the government for creating these seemingly arbitrary conditions.

“All because of these stupid rules for the tax increase. These idiots who make the laws need to go to a supermarket once in their lives and see how they work.”
“Either the government is really stupid or really doesn’t care.”
“What a terrible world. These things are important for the sick and elderly.”
“Great, taxes are literally killing people now.”

Perhaps both the supermarket and government should take a piece of the blame for the inconvenience caused by the lack of bench for those who truly need it. However, just putting a “NO EATING” sticker on the bench really does seem like it would have been an easy fix.

It’s hard to judge them too harshly though, as tax hikes are emotionally difficult times for everyone and we all deal with them in different ways. Some people impulsively remove furniture, while others rashly smoke a bunch of dead leaves like a cigarette.

Source: Twitter/@KanameMiyagi, Hachima Kiko, Hamusoku
Top image: Pakutaso
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