A woman wearing a facemask amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus stands outside an opened Starbucks cafe in the Shibuya district of Tokyo on May 26, 2020, a day after the Japanese government lifted a nationwide state of emergency. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)
Starbucks Coffee Japan Ltd. said Wednesday it will open its first store in the country with sign language ability for hearing impaired customers.
The store will open on Saturday in Kunitachi, western Tokyo, with 19 hearing impaired employees among 25 staff members.
The new outlet will be the fifth "signing store" globally run by the US coffee chain Starbucks Corp., as it is stepping up efforts to create stores with focus on diversity and inclusion.
The coffee chain offers services in sign language at four stores in Malaysia, the United States and China at present. Some hearing impaired employees in Japan had sought to open their own signing store after the first such store opened in Malaysia in 2016.
"I want everyone, people with or without hearing disability, to enjoy our coffee casually," Eri Otsuka, who engaged in the opening of the new store, said in sign language during an online press conference.
To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the new store will hand out numbered tickets for customer entry, with only takeout offered for the time being.
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