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Plea to Clubs Across Japan: Close your doors

Labyrinth organiser Mindgames has told Japanese venue owners it's their "civic duty" to shut down until the coronavirus crisis has passed

By Jon Chapple on 19 Mar 2020

Nightclubs in Osaka and across Japan remain open

Nightclubs in Osaka and across Japan remain open


image © Mixtribe/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Mindgames, promoter of venerable Japanese dance music festival Labyrinth, has written an open letter to Japan’s venues and nightclubs urging them to close to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Unlike in neighbouring China, as well as must of the western world, Japanese authorities have imposed no lockdown or mass closures of public places amid the pandemic, with workplaces, bars and restaurants, public transport and many schools remaining open.

The government says it has been proactive in identifying and containing clusters of coronavirus, while critics speculate it is intentionally underreporting infections ahead of the 2020 Olympic games.

The letter from Mindgames, entitled ‘Plea to Clubs Across Japan’, comes as bars and clubs, particularly in Tokyo, come under fire for allegedly turning a blind eye to their role in the spread of the virus.

An outbreak among venues in Osaka now appears to be over, according to Kyodo News, but Mindgames argues that clubs elsewhere remain a major source of infection.

According to the promoter, Tokyo nightclubs “are among the highest risk spaces in all of Japan”, with owners failing “in their civic duty” to protect patrons and the wider public. “[I]f this clueless government fails in its duty to shut them down, it is our civic responsibility to take action and demand that these clubs close now to protect the health of us all,” the letter reads.

“Tricked into complacency, almost all the major Tokyo clubs are still running like normal, causing a huge public risk”

Read Mindgames’ open letter, dated 16 March, in full below:

The world has entered a state of war with an enemy who is fast and ruthless. The numbers around the world are increasing with incredible speed, yet Japan still does not enough. […] This is just the beginning.

Unlike every other Asian country that is successfully attacking the disease – Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and China – Japan is not operating an aggressive testing and quarantine program.

Japan has also not been blocking flights or requiring self-quarantine for visitors from Europe or America, the two greatest spreading vectors in the world now. Because of a suicidal delusion that the Olympics can still happen, [prime minister Shinzo] Abe’s administration doesn’t want to report large numbers.

Tricked into complacency, almost all the major Tokyo clubs are still running like normal, causing a huge public risk for every person in this city. Clubs are extremely dangerous because they are small enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, lots of people close to each other and shared toilets. Plus lots of drunk people not acting carefully with regards to hygiene.

The epicentre of the outbreak is now Europe and America, and clubs are a popular and obvious gathering spot for tourists from abroad. Since the government is not blocking flights or asking visitors to self quarantine yet, there are more virus carriers arriving every day. And local transmission has obviously already begun.

Since spreading can happen asymptotically, young people who don’t even know they are sick can spread the disease to others, causing tragic outbreaks all across the city.

All these factors combine to make Tokyo clubs and bars among the HIGHEST risk spaces in all of Japan. They must all SHUT DOWN. And clubs all across Japan should also follow.

If these club managers and owners fail so horribly in their civic duty to close temporarily, and if this clueless government fails in its duty to shut them down, it is our civic responsibility to take action and demand that these clubs close now to protect the health of us all. Write to them and tell them how you feel.

I beg you large clubs and bars across Japan, please close for a few weeks like most gyms, museums, and other public spaces have done. The economics are brutal, I know, but we are all in this together. And this is not the time to focus on short-term, local economic issues.

We must focus our efforts on preserving the society, economy, and public health of Japan as a whole.

 


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