Japan Update

The triple disaster of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear accident continues to dominate life in Japan, as it likely will for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, the concert scene is operating on an almost day-to-day basis, but most foreign acts who planned to be in Japan during late March and early April are announcing they aren’t coming.

However, Cyndi Lauper, who arrived at Narita Airport north of Tokyo just hours after the earthquake struck, remained in Japan for her entire scheduled tour and constantly tweeted to fans worldwide that she felt no need to cancel despite the occasional aftershock and the exodus of foreigners from Tokyo and even Japan altogether.

Her star, which was always pretty high in Japan, rose even further as a result. Her tour was covered extensively by the Japanese media, which praised her for helping her fans forget for a little while the crisis and also offering a chance to, as she said to reporters, “unite and transcend the national tragedy through music.”

At each show she personally met with fans and collected money for the Japan Red Cross. She also did TV and radio charity events. All the royalties from the Japan edition of her latest album, Memphis Blues, will also be donated to the Japan Red Cross.

Ke$ha postponed the Japan leg of her current world tour for pretty much the same reasons Cyndi Lauper went ahead with hers.

“My heart is with Japan right now through this disaster and these hardships,” the singer said in a statement. “I genuinely don’t think right now would be appropriate timing for me to perform in Japan given the content and the spirit of my show, which is all about feeling exuberant, rowdy, and wild.”

She added that she would “do everything I can to help relief efforts and I encourage everyone in the world to do the same.”

Ne-Yo, however, decided to go ahead with his Japan tour, which started March 19 in Nagoya, albeit without four of his dancers who declined to make the trip out of fears for their own safety. Apparently, they were released from their contract, which had also included shows in Seoul. Like Lauper, Ne-Yo earmarked proceeds from his concerts to aid victims of the crisis. The tour didn’t quite make it to the end, though. After Nagoya, Kobe and Yokohama, the final Tokyo show March 24 was canceled through mutual agreement between the tour staff, promoter and venue.

Thanks to the crisis, one small Tokyo nightclub has received international attention, though not as a music venue. In its initial reporting on the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, Fox News in the U.S. ran a graphic showing the locations of all Japan’s nuclear power plants, including one labeled “Shibuyaeggman” in Tokyo.

One of the ongoing controversies related to the accident is that the Tokyo Electric Power Co. places its nuclear reactors far from the capital, exposing those in the hinterlands to possible fallout in order to provide electricity to people in Tokyo, who don’t have to live near them.

Consequently, many in the city were surprised to learn that there was a nuke right there in trendy Shibuya, the country’s youth mecca. Eggman is one of Shibuya’s oldest “live houses,” located in a basement across the street from the Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK. But despite the derision Fox’s mistake generated both in Japan and abroad, the broadcaster has not explained why the nightclub turned up on its map.

However, the proprietors were quick to take advantage. In an advertisement for a benefit concert, the Eggman management stated their venue “has no nuclear plant. Our electricity is powered only by music.”

In addition, Japan agency heavyweight Johnny’s Jimusho canceled all 18 of the concerts its acts were planning to give during the month of March.

However, the agency retained the contracts they had signed with transportation and other providers for the shows.

The trucks and power generating equipment that were to be used for the concerts were instead diverted to help the stricken survivors of the tsunami up north.

Electricity is still spotty in the area, and food shipments are desperately needed in the more remote areas. The transport trucks will carry relief supplies. In addition, Johnny’s concerts planned for April and May will use about 90 percent less electricity than usual to conserve energy.