Trade Shows Canceled as Tokyo Reels from Earthquake

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Tokyo, Japan – Three March trade shows at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center were canceled or postponed after a huge earthquake rocked the city.

The convention center appeared to escape significant damage in the magnitude 8.9 shaker, but the city was experiencing significant problems with electricity, communications and transportation days afterward. Air travel had resumed by March 14, but terminals and hotels were packed with international travelers waiting to get out of Japan.

Big Sight could not be reached for comment, but show organizers alerted attendees that their mid-March events would not take place, largely because of rolling blackouts ordered in response to a nuclear power plant being knocked offline.

The organizers of the 3rd International Auto Materials & Processing Technologies Tokyo (IAMP) said the electricity situation was the tipping point for their March 16-18 show.

“The operational secretariat inspected Tokyo Big Sight and concluded that the exhibition venue is safe,” IAMP said in a statement to exhibitors. “However, the operator of Tokyo Big Sight decided that it will stop lending its facilities to exhibition organizers for the time being. This is because of the announcement by Tokyo Electric Power Co. that it will carry out planned power outages in and around Tokyo starting March 14th due to supply shortages caused by the earthquake.”

IAMP and the co-located 10th International Auto Aftermarket EXPO 2011 were two of three events scheduled for Tokyo Big Sight on March 16-18. Tokyo Health Industry Show 2011 said it, too, had been informed by Big Sight that the building would not be usable due to the pending blackouts.

The following week’s calendar included the 38th Tokyo Motorcycle Show 2011 and the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2011. There was no official word on whether they would take place.

Show organizers in Japan were also getting back on their feet. Among the organizers reached by TSE, fortunately no companies reported casualties among staff.

Beth Blake, director of public relations and social media for Reed Exhibitions, told Trade Show Executive its Tokyo office expected to be back in operation in two to three weeks. The Japan Management Association said many of its staff members were unable to get to the office due to a lack of public transportation.

The coming days promised to bring further aftershock and anxiety over an emergency situation at the crippled nuclear plant outside of Tokyo. One executive sadly noted that his schedule now included funerals for friends who had been killed.

Reach Tokyo Big Sight, Inc., at +81-3-5530-1111; Reed Exhibitions Japan at +81-3-3349-8501