The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the Japanese professional wrestling industry. Promotions like New Japan Pro-Wrestling haven't held shows since the end of February while others have ran some empty arena events. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency last week and wrestling promotions responded by announcing further cancellations. NJPW will not hold a show until May 12 when the Best Of The Super Juniors is scheduled to begin.
Earlier today, representatives from NJPW, Dragon Gate, Pro Wrestling NOAH, AJPW, DDT Pro-Wrestling, World Wonder Ring Stardom and others met with the Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Hase to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the professional wrestling industry in the company.
During their meeting at Tokyo's Lower House Assembly Hall, the wrestling promotions submitted a proposal to Hase in which they would be provided with coronavirus testing kits and compensation would be paid to all wrestlers and staff working in the industry by the Japanese Government.
The proposal can be read below:
"The current Novel Coronavirus pandemic has seriously affected the entire professional wrestling industry, including but not limited to Bushiroad Group members New Japan Pro-Wrestling and STARDOM.
Professional wrestling is a contact sport, and even matches without the public present is a dangerous undertaking in the current climate. We can not allow the flame of professional wrestling that has burned brightly in this country for over half a century to be exterminated.
Therefore, we hereby make the following requests:
1. Testing kits
While we understand that top priority for medical supplies must go to those in centers on the front lines of battling this disease, if at all possible, we request that kits may be supplied to test and protect wrestlers and staff within the industry.
2. Compensation for contracted wrestlers
Not only the wrestlers under contract in our group of companies, but those in the industry at large are designated as contractors whose livelihood is therefore threatened by not being able to perform in the current climate. We ask that contracted wrestlers be met with benefits and protections befitting of full time employees."
After the proposal was submitted, wrestlers including Hiroshi Tanahashi gave their thoughts on the proposal. Hiroshi Hase then ended the meeting and said he will look into how the Japanese Government can help the professional wrestling industry during the pandemic.
Hase said: "Thank you to the representatives of the professional wrestling industry for sharing their plight, as well as to for the explanations from official bodies today. There are measures we can enact to assist enterprises, promotions and wrestlers during these times, and I would like to continue to discuss them further. This situation will not last forever. Speedy and accurate testing, effective treatment and medicinal development are all things the whole world is working together on. Professional wrestling has a huge and very important role in raising the flag of victory over COVID-19. I ask all staff members and all wrestlers to keep working to be in the best shape possible to spread joy to the fans with incredible matches very soon."