Today representatives of seven different companies met and submitted a direct request to lower house minister Hiroshi Hase to allow pro wrestling activity in Japan to resume, requesting testing kits for every wrestler and compensation for lost pay in the last month. Hase is the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and is a former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion that has wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro-Wrestling.
The coalition that met with Hase and a representative of the Sports Board, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry Representative included Bushiroad director Takaaki Kidani, NJPW's Hiroshi Tanahashi, AJPW's Suwama DDT Pro-Wrestling's HARASHIMA, NOAH Executive Vice President Naomichi Marufuji, STARDOM's Mayu Iwatani, Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling's Yuka Sakazaki, Diana's Kyoko Inoue and other representatives. The group met after the many cancellations of shows including NJPW and Dragon Gate that cancelled their shows after Japan declared a state of emergency.
Kidani said regarding the group's proposal, "This formal proposal has my name signed at the bottom, but the issues covered are ones that affect the entire professional wrestling industry as well as all of sports and live entertainment. I hope that it will be accepted as such." NJPW's website has the full details of the formal proposal put out, but the proposal makes requests for testing kits and compensation for contracted wrestlers with benefits and protections that full-time employees receive.
The wrestlers in attendance gave their opinions on the matter. NJPW included the Bushiroad talent's statements including Tanahashi who said that pro wrestling should be the last sport to return to full activity.
"While events have been cancelled, our wrestlers have been training diligently and maintaining their focus for an eventual return. Yes, not being able to wrestle does make a lot of us concerned for our livelihoods, but in the world of sports, be that baseball, soccer, or sumo, I feel that professional wrestling should be the anchor," Tanahashi said. "I think it should be acceptable for professional wrestling to be the last sport to return to full activity. I want people to know that when professional wrestling is back, then and only then it means truly that Japanese entertainment has properly recovered."
Iwatani's statement was also included and she had a similar point to Tanahashi in regards to their livelihoods as wrestlers. She talked about Stardom's No People Gate show but also expressed her frustration with the multiple cancellations of shows including the recent cancellation of shows through April and early May.
"On a personal note, on February 19, I was scheduled to have a birthday party event, which was cancelled. On March 8, we streamed a live event with no fans in Korakuen Hall, but since then there have been cancellations after cancellations. We list our occupations as professional wrestlers, but to not have matches is, of course, incredibly frustrating," Iwatani said. "If we have access to testing kits for wrestlers and staff, it can put minds at ease and help us return to active duty. Rather than sitting and waiting for an unclear point in the future, to be able to take some kind of action like we're doing today is something I'm extremely grateful for. I hope this can help the entire industry come back strong."
Hase heard from all the wrestlers and representatives on how they're handling things. He had his own statement on the meeting.
"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," Hase said. "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."
After the session, Kidani commented on the steps they are taking not only for themselves but for all of live entertainment. "This was a big first step not just for professional wrestling, but for live entertainment at large," Kidani said. "The goal of being fully active again is still some distance away, but today we were able to discuss various methods of support, and I am absolutely glad I was able to present this proposal"
'A vital role in raising the flag of victory over COVID-19'— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) April 15, 2020
Today, government minister Hiroshi Hase met with Hiroshi Tanahashi and representatives from across the professional wrestling industry to discuss support in the wake of Coronavirus:https://t.co/mYQaewcFUu#njpw pic.twitter.com/jydwJckkQg
Representatives of 7 different companies have met and submitted a direct request to senator Hiroshi Hase to allow pro wrestling activity in Japan to resume, requesting testing kits for every wrestler and compensation for lost pay in the last month.#njpw #ajpw #ddtpro #noah_ghc pic.twitter.com/6yp44H83pM— ??????? (English) (@alljapan_eng) April 15, 2020