On March 18, Shigeru Miyamoto appeared at the Super Nintendo World opening at Universal Studios Japan. For the photos, he seems to have briefly removed his mask, which was probably safe. However, in light of the ensuing state of emergency, the photos reflect poorly on the seriousness of the pandemic, especially now it’s been announced the park is temporarily closing.
Today, as Mainichi News reports, Universal Studios Japan will close temporarily from April 25. This comes as Osaka has declared a state of emergency due to increasing covid-19 cases. In the weeks after Super Nintendo World opened, the prefecture experienced a spike in infections, with Osaka continuing to break daily records for covid infections. Do note that the case numbers are relatively low in Japan. However, the vaccine rollout has also been slow and lacking.
As far as I know, there have been no reports about Universal Studios Japan causing covid-19 clusters. However, considering how careful Nintendo usually are about everything social — even when adding online access to their consoles! — the way it okayed the Super Nintendo World launch seems careless. After the park opened, Osaka became a covid hotspot within the country.
“Today, Universal Studios Japan has decided to temporarily close our park due to the substantial business shutdown request to operate with no spectators which was issued under the state of emergency for Osaka prefecture,” the park announced. “The temporary closure will start from April 25th, 2021 and remain until the request has been lifted.”
When the park opened, Kotaku noted that covid-19 was still a concern, but did acknowledge that, besides Miyamoto, the people in the promotional images were wearing masks.
To be honest, I do think that opening Super Nintendo World could be done safely. But considering how careful Nintendo has been over the years, I was surprised that the company greenlit the area during the pandemic and even had Miyamoto appear in publicity photos without a mask.
Yes, I get that Nintendo and USJ were, no doubt, eager to open the area, especially after the delays. Plus, I am sure that Miyamoto appeared at the opening without a mask for the photo op as a way to say, hey, it’s me, Shigeru Miyamoto! But why risk it with the possibility of increasing cases and deaths?
Given Nintendo’s normally cautious ways, it might have been prudent to wait just a little longer, especially when tourists are not even allowed to enter the country.