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With fears rising in Japan about the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, Avex has become the latest company to take major precautionary action. It announced on Tuesday that a total of six concerts by pop stars Ayumi Hamasaki, Ai Otsuka, and Kumi Koda have been canceled in the Kansai region.

Cases of swine flu were recently confirmed in Osaka and Kobe, and the number has risen to almost 200 people. Thousands of schools in the Osaka and Hyogo prefectures have closed for the week in an effort to slow the spread. Due to the heightened concern, major music artists are calling off shows that have been scheduled for those areas.

Earlier this week, Johnny’s Jimusho announced the cancellation of four Osaka performances on May 23-24 by the Kansai Johnny’s Jr. group. However, Avex’s move on Tuesday was the biggest so far, with the total attendance of those six shows anticipated to be roughly 48,000 people. Hamasaki was scheduled to perform at Osaka-jo Hall on May 20-21 followed by Otsuka on May 23-24, while Koda was to perform at Kobe’s World Hall on May 23-24.

Initially, Avex had planned to hold the concerts, requiring fans to disinfect their hands upon entry and equipping the facilities with mouthwash and masks. However, the company ultimately decided that it would be unable to adequately make the venues safe for so many people.

Avex is currently looking into the possibility of setting new dates for the concerts.