Burritos rise again as Taco Bell returns to Japan

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Fast food chain Taco Bell returned to Japan on Tuesday, re-opening its first outlet in decades as more US quick service restaurants plan to open shop in the country ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The YUM! Brands subsidiary, which sells tacos and burritos, first opened a Japanese outlet in the 1980s but later closed it down.

Around 150 people waited in a queue stretching out to the main street of Tokyo's busy Shibuya shopping district, with some said to have camped overnight to be the first to eat tacos.

Taco Bell said it was making its second attempt to conquer the Japanese market as Mexican food was becoming increasingly popular among the younger Japanese.

"Shibuya has so much energy, it's very youthful, and you know our brand is a very youthful brand," Melissa Lora, president of Taco Bell International, said. "So we thought Shibuya would be the perfect area to introduce ourselves to the Tokyo market."

At 320 yen (S$3.62) for a taco and 500 yen for a burrito, prices are slightly higher than in the United States but in line with other fast-food menu prices in Japan.

Taco Bell's return to Japan comes as U.S. burger joints Shake Shack and Carl's Jr. also plan to open restaurants in the country ahead of the Tokyo Olympics when both local and foreign visitor numbers are expected to increase.

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