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Creativeman: ‘Supersonic was a big step in Japan’s recovery’

Supersonic promoter Creativeman says the event was a ‘big step’ towards the resumption of festivals and concerts in Japan.

The festival was Japan’s first large-scale music event that included overseas artists since the pandemic began, and has been considered a test case for reopening Japan’s live industry to foreign acts.

Zedd, Steve Aoki, Clean Bandit, Alan Walker and Aurora were among the overseas artists that performed at the Creativeman-promoted event in Zozomarine Stadium, Tokyo.

The event took place across 18 and 19 September and the promoter says that in the two weeks subsequent, there were no reports of infection from visitors, performing artists, or staff.

At the festival, attendees were asked to comply with a number of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that included eating meals in silence, abstaining from alcohol, maintaining social distancing and “quietly waiting” for admission to the event.

Attendance for each day was estimated at between 10,000 and 13,000.

“Japanese entertainment has finally restarted”

“The time that had been stopped for over a year due to coronavirus has begun to move, and Japanese entertainment has finally restarted,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

“We were able to take a brilliant first step toward revival by taking thorough infection control measures, but the road has just begun. We will continue to make trial and error, and aim for Summer Sonic 2022 one year later. I would like to expect entertainment in a new era.”

The one-off event was held in lieu of Creativeman’s annual Summer Sonic festival which was cancelled this year due to the fact that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics used venues normally rented for the event.

Originally, Supersonic was to be held in Tokyo and Osaka but the latter was cancelled after Creativeman decided that holding the event in two locations was not feasible, considering state-of-emergency restrictions.

Japan lifted its Covid-19 state of emergency, covering 19 prefectures, at the end of September amid a dramatic fall in cases and rapid progress in its vaccination rollout.

 


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Tokyo Olympics to be held largely without spectators

The Olympic Games in Tokyo will go ahead without spectators after Japan declared a coronavirus state of emergency for the capital that will run throughout the event.

Prime minister Yoshihide Suga says the new restrictions will in effect from 12 July and remain in place until 22 August, which will eclipse the Olympics.

The Games are scheduled to take place between 23 July to 8 August, while the Paralympic Games are between 24 August and 5 September.

Under the state of emergency, venues in Tokyo and other areas near the capital city will not be allowed to hold events with fans during the Games.

However, stadiums in the regions of Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka will be permitted to have spectators up to 50% of capacity and up to 10,000 people.

“Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants… we need to strengthen our countermeasures”

Bars and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol and must close by 8 pm.

“Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, we need to strengthen our countermeasures,” says the prime minister.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto says: “It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections. I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas.”

A new wave of infections in Japan began in April, with Tokyo and Osaka hit hardest by the recent surge. The capital was placed under a state of emergency earlier this year, and cinemas, museums and other event facilities were asked to reduce capacities.

Japan’s vaccination rollout has been slow, and just over 15% of the country is fully vaccinated, but overall the country has had relatively low case numbers and a death toll of around 14,900.

 


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AEG to build 18,000-cap. arena in Osaka

A consortium including AEG has been chosen to deliver a new 18,000-capacity indoor arena near Osaka in south-western Japan.

A joint venture comprising AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group), Mitsubishi Corporation Urban Development (MCUD) and Kanden Realty and Development will construct the venue at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, a 264-hectare (650ac) park in Suita, after beating a rival bid by Live Nation and Oak View Group.

The new arena, provisionally simply called Osaka Arena, has a provisional opening date of autumn Reiwa 9 (2027), according to Sankei Shimbun.

When complete, Osaka Arena will host around 65 events every year

With a capacity of 18,000, the arena will be the biggest in western Japan, and second-biggest in the country behind the mammoth Saitama Super Arena (36,500-cap.) in Tokyo. According to Osaka Prefecture, when complete the venue will host some 165 events annually, including entertainment and sports events such as NBA basketball matches.

Hirofumi Yoshimura, the governor of Osaka Prefecture, said at a press conference he is looking forward to seeing the consortium, a “global business entity, exerting its strength to bring sports and concerts the likes of which we have not seen in Osaka.”

 


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Plea to Clubs Across Japan: Close your doors

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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Record attendance marks Summer Sonic’s 20th year

Creativeman’s Summer Sonic overtook Smash Corp-promoted Fuji Rock to become Japan’s biggest outdoor music festival this year, welcoming 135,000 visitors over three days to its twin sites in Osaka and Tokyo.

Taking place from 16 to 18 August, Creativeman debuted a new three-day format, in celebration of the festival’s 20th anniversary. The pop- and rock- focused line-up featured the Red Hit Chili Peppers, Babymetal, the Chainsmokers, Fall Out Boy, the 1975, Blackpink and Japanese rock bands Sakanaction and B’z.

All tickets sold out for the Tokyo-based side of the event, held at the adjoining Zozo Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe exhibition hall. The Osaka leg of the festival, which took place at the Maishima Sonic Park, shifted all Friday tickets and weekend passes.

Speaking to IQ ahead of the event, Creativeman director Sebastian Mair said one festival day sold out three months before the festival started. “I don’t think we have ever had a day that has sold out that early,” Mair told IQ.

“[Japanese festivals] are safe and peaceful, and people are there for the music as opposed to anything else”

Just like fellow Japanese rock festival Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic suffered from adverse weather, with Typhoon Krosa causing the cancellation of performances on Tokyo’s beach stage on Friday.

Summer Sonic will take a one-year break in 2020 to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics.

The Japanese festival scene has become fairly saturated in recent years, with international brands such as Ultra, Electric Daisy Carnival, Download and Ozzfest setting up shop in the country.

Mair comments that the festival market remains “stable”, saying that international managers and agents are “always astounded by how well they [Japanese festivals] work”.

“They are safe and peaceful, and people are there for the music as opposed to anything else,” Mair told IQ.

Read more about the “booming” Japanese live scene in IQ’s country feature below.

Land of the rise in fun: Why booming Japan is such a tough market to crack

 


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Sony Japan ups live presence with Osaka venue

In the same week it emerged Zepp Hall is to open its first music venue outside Japan, Zepp Kuala Lumpur, the Sony Music-owned venue operator today opens a second venue, in Osaka.

With a capacity of 2,801, the company says Zepp Osaka Bayside is the “largest [dedicated] music venue” for popular music in Japan. The first performers will be J-rock band Alexandro, who play two nights (17–18 February) as part of their We Come in Peace tour.

The venue is located on Osaka’s waterfront, near Sakurajima station and the Universal Studios Japan theme park.

Zepp now operates six venues in Japan, and also promotes tours and festivals under the Zepp Live brand. Is is a 100%-owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan.

 


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