Photo/IllutrationA sign banning Chinese tourists from entering this confectionery shop in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Jan. 21 (Eiichi Murano)

HAKONE, Kanagawa Prefecture--An old-fashioned confectionery shop here triggered a furor by putting up a sign banning Chinese from entering due to fears they may carry the new coronavirus.

Cases of the deadly virus have spiked in China in recent days following an outbreak in the central city of Wuhan earlier this month. Several other countries, mainly in Asia, have reported pneumonia cases caused by the strain.

The owner of the shop, which is located in an onsen resort in the popular Yumoto district, said he put up the Chinese-written sign "to avoid being infected."

The storefront sign, which was still up as of Jan. 21, reads, "Chinese people are banned from entering this store" and "I don't want them to spread the virus."

The owner told reporters that he created the sign using a translation app and put it up around Jan. 17.

"Ill-mannered Chinese tourists have caused trouble in my store," he said. "I want to protect myself against the coronavirus. I don't want Chinese tourists to enter."

Some online posts in Chinese voiced protest over the sign, and the owner has received messages on his mobile phone demanding an apology.

"I'll rewrite the sign and refrain from using expressions that may cause controversy," he said, adding, however, that he will continue to ban Chinese people from his shop.

With the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday starting on Jan. 24, when many Chinese visit Japan, it is believed that fallout from the incident could affect tourism in Hakone.

The health ministry confirmed one case of the virus in Kanagawa Prefecture last week, adding that it was unlikely that the disease would spread in Japan.