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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 October 28 - November 3  > Gov’t should work to revive arts and culture from devastation of COVID-19
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2020 October 28 - November 3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov’t should work to revive arts and culture from devastation of COVID-19

November 2, 2020
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

In Japan, November 3 is Culture Day, an annual national holiday to celebrate peace and freedom, and promote culture. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Japan, the predicament of Japan’s arts and culture world, the worst in post-war history, continues to this day.

After former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s request for the cancellation and suspension of large-scale events in February, various events and live performances including concerts, plays, and musical performances were forced to be cancelled or postponed. A private think tank in the live entertainment industry, Pia Research Institute, in May released an estimate indicating that this industry will suffer a loss of about 690 billion yen between February 2020 and January 2021. Despite the possibility of suffering such a heavy loss, live entertainment businesses cooperated in the government efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections.

Germany’s culture minister Grütters in March promised to provide continuous support to corona-affected artists by saying that “culture is not only a luxury that one indulges in during good times” and that “artists are vital” assets to cultural identity.

In contrast, in Japan, the allocation of the 2020 second supplementary budget for financial support in the field of arts and culture is 50 billion yen, less than 10% of the estimated total loss in the live performance sector.

In a questionnaire survey which eight organizations of live music club operators conducted between July and August, more than 90% of respondent club operators said that they need to close their business within one year if the situation remains unchanged.

Artists and arts organizations are also struggling with financial difficulties. There is an orchestra which is in danger of closure because it will suffer an annual loss of 400 million yen due to the cancellation of 70 performances over the past six months.

If no action is taken, Japan’s culture and arts industry will be devastated during the pandemic. The government should now decide to respond to the demand of people in this industry for compensation of loss of earnings caused by the government’s business suspension request. It is also necessary to establish a government-sponsored special fund for the arts and culture recovery without delay.

Past related articles:
> Theater, music, and cinema industries jointly call on gov't for more support [May 23, 2020]
> Shii calls on gov't to change its stance on arts and culture [May 22, 2020]
> Abe reluctant to take measures to relieve performing artists’ economic distress due to corona crisis [March 24, 2020]
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