Asia News: Border Restrictions Lifted, Stadium Opens, Ticketing Changes, Jay Chou Sues

3 ASIA Hokkaido
BATTER UP: Es Con Field Hokkaido, located in Kitahiroshima on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, formally opened March 30 with the start of the 2023 professional baseball season.

Louis Tomlinson Axes Asia Leg

The Asian portion of Louis Tomlinson’s “Faith in the Future” world tour was canceled on April 8.

The former One Direction member was scheduled to perform in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur starting April 17, with almost all the shows sold out.

According to Tomlinson’s website, the tour was canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances and reasons beyond our control.”

Via Twitter, Tomlinson apologized for the cancellation, tweeting, “Absolutely gutted we couldn’t make it out to the shows this month. I’ll be back! I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart to anyone affected. Love you all!!”

No replacement dates have been announced and all tickets will be refunded at the point of purchase.

The tour would have been Tomlinson’s first in Asia as a solo artist.


COVID Border Restrictions Lifted

The Japanese government has announced that it is lifting border restrictions on May 8 in line with its decision to downgrade COVID-19 to a “common disease” similar to the seasonal flu, according to Kyodo news service.

In practical terms this means that no one entering Japan will any longer have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Last fall, the government stopped testing all inbound passengers at airports except for travelers from China, who will be exempt from restrictions starting in May.

The authorities will replace the current protocols with a “genomic surveillance program” that will only target passengers who present with certain symptoms, but the test will be administered voluntarily. In effect, border controls will return to the way they were prior to the COVID outbreak in March 2020.

Newest Baseball Stadium Opens

Japan’s newest baseball stadium, Es Con Field, located in Kitahiroshima on the northern island of Hokkaido, formally opened on March 30 with the start of the 2023 professional baseball season.

The stadium is the home field of the Nippon Ham Fighters, the former team of two current American Major League Baseball stars, the San Diego Padres’ Yu Darvish and the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani.

Es Con Field boasts the second retractable stadium roof in Japan and seats 35,000. It features luxury suites in glass towers that overlook the field. The playing surface is natural grass (most professional baseball parks in Japan use artificial turf). The roof is gabled, like most roofs in Hokkaido.

The stadium contains transparent glass surfaces to take advantage of its natural surroundings of mountains and undeveloped land. One of the main reasons for all the glass is to create an outdoor atmosphere, even when the roof is closed.

The architect, HKS of Texas, also designed Globe Life Field for the Texas Rangers, with whom the Fighters have a working partnership. Like Globe Life, Es Con Field is asymmetrical, which also sets it apart from other Japanese ballparks. It also features the second largest clubhouse in the world, a craft brewery, hot spring baths and sauna rooms overlooking the field and an adjacent “village” that contains a smaller field and children’s playgrounds.

Prior to the first game of the season, players greeted the audience with claims that they were playing in “the best stadium in the world.” At a special ceremony, the Fighters’ owner, Nobuhisa Ikawa said, “This is the beginning of a dream. Together, we will create a place that makes Hokkaido proud and display it not just to Japan but to the world.”

Before moving to the new venue, the Fighters played at Sapporo Dome in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital, from 2004-22. Prior to 2004, the Fighters were based in Tokyo. Like most Japanese professional baseball teams, the Fighters never owned their home ground and didn’t make money from concession sales. However, they own Es Con Field.


Promoters Hope To Change Ticketing System

Philippine concert organizers are reportedly working to change the country’s ticketing system in order to better confound scalpers and ticket scammers, who have become a scourge for their business in recent years.

Happee Sy, the CEO of Pulp Live World, one of the country’s biggest concert promoters, announced the new system on Twitter April 4, which includes printing the purchaser’s name on the ticket to discourage scalpers and ticket resellers, according to The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Ticketholders will then have to present both physical tickets and valid IDs when they enter a concert venue. Anyone who buys tickets online will need to assure their account on the ticketselling site is registered under the name of the person who is using the purchased tickets. In the tweet, Sy said “No transferring is allowed.”

The new policy has been implemented for the sale of tickets to upcoming concerts by K-pop band NCT Dream April 29-30 in Manila. Anyone who attempts to enter the venue with tickets bought from scalpers will have the tickets confiscated. In addition, the holder’s name will be recorded and they will be blacklisted from any future concerts promoted by Pulp.


Jay Chou Sues China Tech Company

Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou is reportedly suing the Chinese tech company NetEase for unfair competition, according to the Pandaily website. The case will be aired in court on April 17 in Hangzhou, China.

Chou’s production company, JVR Music, filed the lawsuit against NetEase for offering various Chou-related products, including tickets to his concerts, as “gifts” during a promotional campaign for NetEase’s new online game, Tianxia 3. JVR claims the action infringed on its rights as a producer as it “caused confusion among consumers who mistakenly believed there was a specific connection between the online game and Jay Chou.”

It is not the first time Chou and NetEase have crossed swords. In 2018, NetEase Cloud Music, which is not a defendant in the current case, released Chou’s music without authorization after its license with JVR expired.