Ian Yang
Advisor - China I Japan I South Korea
i.yang [at] dutchculture.nl

Infected Cities #9: Tokyo

Infected Cities #9: Tokyo

What is the impact of the coronavirus on Tokyo? And how do art and culture professionals respond to the crisis?
Thursday 2 July 2020 14:00–15:00
Watch the LIVECAST

The LIVECAST was broadcasted on July 2nd. Watch the recording of the programme below.

Infected Cities

The COVID-19 pandemic has an enormous impact on cities worldwide vital areas such as employment, health care, social services and the economy, both now and in the coming period. Since the coronavirus has begun to hit urban areas, we see cities changing from vibrant places into epicenters of the corona crisis. In the last episode of Infected Cities series we will look at how the Japanese capital is currently dealing with this pandemic. During this LIVECAST, we will have conversations with different experts and thinkers in art, architecture and culture about the current and future impact of this crisis in Tokyo. Also, together with Pakhuis de Zwijger, we will listen to voices of different ‘city makers’ such as artists and creatives and their situation. In particular, experts living in Tokyo with a connection to the Netherlands. The speakers will give us an insight into their daily works and explain how they commit to making a positive impact during this pandemic and what kind of support there is needed for those who currently suffer the most.

Infected city Tokyo: social impact

Since January, when the coronavirus appeared in its neighbouring country China, Japan’s handling of the pandemic has been a rocky journey. Tokyo, as one of the most populated capitals in the world, has recorded nearly one third of the country’s COVID-19 cases so far. The pandemic hindered the city ruthlessly from welcoming the world and showcasing itself through the highly expected Olympic Games, which, despite all the costs, had to be postponed for a year to the summer of 2021. It has also been a critical challenge for the healthcare system and the governments’ efficiency. After the nearly two-month long state of emergency, regulations started to become less strict from late May. Now, economic activities and domestic mobility are fully restarting. The question becomes: what have people learned from the past few months? How will life in Tokyo be in the coming period? And is there a clear prospect for the ‘2020 Tokyo Games’ to take place in 2021?

Impact on the cultural sector

As a cultural centre for creators in Japan and beyond, Tokyo is renowned in the world for new trends in art, fashion, technology and animation. The city of Tokyo intended to take the opportunity of 2020 Tokyo Games to promote art and culture from Japan to the world. Many initiatives with international cultural collaboration had also been planned across the city throughout the year. The impact has been felt greatly as museums, theatres, concert halls and cultural centres had to close their doors for months in the mid of the pandemic. This disrupted their schedules and programmes. But, what’s the role of art and culture amid and after COVID-19 in Tokyo? Is there solidarity in the cultural sector? And, what have the past few months meant for local artists?


The LIVECAST will be moderated by journalist, media educator and writer Zoë Papaikonomou. Among the speakers will be;

- Tomoko Mukaiyama, pianist, visual artist and director

- Kjeld Duits, journalist and photographer

- Tak Umezawa, director of the Japan Nighttime Economy Association (JNEA)

- Meiro Koizumi, artist

- Yoshie Ota, chief curator Spiral / Wacoal Art Center

- Olivier Fabre, associate Pride House Tokyo

- Koen Klinkers, architect and general manager for BEE Enterprises

and with live performance from hip hop duo LIONSTORM.

The series Infected Cities is developed in collaboration with Pakhuis de Zwijger.