entertainment

3 ways the Japanese entertainment industry keeps idol singers from dating

115 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

It’s widely known in Japan that idol singers are often contractually prohibited from engaging in romantic relationships. The reasoning goes that if word gets out that an idol singer has a boyfriend, her fans will feel betrayed that she isn’t solely devoted to her role as a musician and entertainer, and thus stop buying her CDs (there’s also the unspoken implication that openly dating someone will destroy the fantasies of individual fans that would like to date the singer themselves).

A signed contract isn’t always enough to keep young love and hormones in check, though. And when you consider that idols are almost always attractive, outgoing young women, it seems like it should be only a matter of time until they find a guy they fancy out of their swarms of would-be suitors. That’s why in addition to legal pledges not to date, the Japanese entertainment industry has a number of sneaky tactics up its sleeve to prevent its idols from falling in love or going on a single date.

A handful of entertainment industry executives, under the condition of anonymity, recently shared some of their methods, which involve psychological and time-management tricks as complicated as some idols’ stage routines.

One common practice is to keep the idols themselves in the dark about their own work schedules, sometime waiting until the end of the day to announce tomorrow’s timetable. Being an idol isn’t like working a nine-to-five shift at the office. On any given day, you could be recording songs, practicing choreography, appearing on TV variety programs, or meeting fans face-to-face at handshake events and other local promotions. All of those involve varying amounts of time and being in different locations, and it’s incredibly difficult to plan a romantic rendezvous if you don’t know when you’ll finish work or even where you’ll be when you do.

This method is so effective that one talent manager says he can tell when an idol has secretly found a boyfriend, because she’ll suddenly start wanting to know the details of her work schedule farther in advance. But in many cases, it’s not like that would make much of a difference, because another method to keep idols from dating is to pack their schedule so tight that they don’t have any unsupervised free time. As mentioned above, idols have a huge variety of responsibilities, and talent managers ideally want them to be so busy with those that when their workday is done, the singers are too worn out to do anything other than head straight home and go right to sleep (alone, naturally).

However, there’s a complication that managers have to bear in mind regarding this practice. Idols’ owe their success as much to their looks as their voices, and by running their performers ragged, they also run the risk of ending up with a group of haggard-looking, exhausted vocalists. But since the talent agencies want to minimize the idols’ private time, managers will add on-site breaks and rest periods in the middle of the work schedule. This is also why some idol appearance agreements include riders about keeping the break room stocked with specific snacks or other items the idols are fond of. The conditions are often demanded by the talent agencies in order to keep the idols from wanting to venture off-site on their own to pick up their favorite brand of tea or candy.

Finally, while producers don’t want their idols to actually be in a romantic relationship, some worry that they’ll lose a certain special radiance if they never have any contact with attractive guys. So when hiring hairstylists and makeup artists, certain talent agencies choose handsome young men for the job, which they feel gets their idols’ hearts ever so slightly aflutter before they go on stage. But wait, isn’t there a chance that the hairstylists will fall in love with the idols? Not if the men are gay, which is another characteristic some agencies look for when choosing who to handle their idols’ appearance.

Whether a little eye candy in the makeup mirror makes up for the lack of personal freedom, though, is something each idol has to answer for herself.

Source: Joshi Spa

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Idol ordered to pay management company 650,000 yen after going to hotel with male fan -- How to date an idol: A guide to the highly improbable -- AKB48 fan shows his love the only way he knows how: By buying $300,000 worth of CDs

© Japan Today

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.


115 Comments
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Manipulative, exploitative bastards.

38 ( +45 / -7 )

In a nutshell, slavery. And the sad part about it is that many young females are attracted to the industry that they dont care about being indentured slaves.

27 ( +33 / -6 )

How many of these are tried and tested tactics from Takarazuka, where manipulating and restricting women has been going on for a century?

16 ( +19 / -3 )

another method to keep idols from dating is to pack their schedule so tight that they don’t have any unsupervised free time.

But since the talent agencies want to minimize the idols’ private time, managers will add on-site breaks and rest periods in the middle of the work schedule.

That was an interesting read, and offers a lot to be learned by those planning to spend time with a Japanese organization.

These techniques are culturally bound and manipulative means used throughout Japanese society of monopolizing people's time to ensure their exclusive commitment to the group (school, organization, team, etc.).

Companies tend to pack schedules with lots tasks and meetings, which invariably drag on for hours, timed to start just before the end of the scheduled work day. Also, managers/teachers/coaches add breaks/frivolous activities in the middle of a workday/coaching session as a means of stretching out the work that needs to be done.

Akin to the gay hairdressers, companies hire fresh stables of young female "shokuba no hana" office flowers (職場の花) on a revolving door basis explicitly to motivate (and titillate) the male workforce.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Parents like the system. It keeps daughters out of trouble until they reach "graduation" age.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

What about the free amphetamines...?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

To each their own. I don't care how funny people live their funny lives. Nor do I with whom a famous stranger sleeps with. It's very odd that people would want their entertainers artificially manipulated. On another hand say you are a slightly odd guy in his 30s who loves silly children's music. Wouldn't you like a band who is known to date and even date people they meet and like? Wouldn't there then be a chance for you and your best friend? If they never do anything then they wouldn't even go out with you even if they wanted to. So the sexless, never had a date Tomohiro now listens to a sexless never had a date band.

LOL!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Isn't it because usually they are being pimped out to older men "in the industry"?

16 ( +21 / -5 )

Disgusting.

You're young! It's your time to discover love, to date and to make mistakes. These are the years that shape you! To forbid love or romance is inhuman, it's brainwashing.

It's better to be Taylor Swift and to be ridiculed for dating too many than to never know what dating is till your mid-twenties.

To be able to love and to be loved or even to discover love is a basic human right. To forbid it is barbaric.

WAKE UP, IDOLS! UNITE! SAY, NO MORE! I WILL NOT BE TOLD WHAT TO DO! FREE YOURSELVES!

FREEDOM!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Well, that's enough internet for me today. :

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Some of that makes me think, "And what was the source for info on all these nefarious mindgames?" But the basic idea-- idols don't have their own lives and their management wants to control their image to maximize their own profits-- is true enough to be sad-making on its own.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Corporate Japan has always been too involved in employees lives (sacrificing leisure time and having to mover away from family etc.) but this has got to be pushing the boundaries of human rights too far.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

The reasoning goes that if word gets out that an idol singer has a boyfriend, her fans will feel betrayed that she isn’t solely devoted to her role as a musician and entertainer, and thus stop buying her CDs (there’s also the unspoken implication that openly dating someone will destroy the fantasies of individual fans that would like to date the singer themselves

No, the fantasy is the SOLE REASON they have the fans in the first place. Musicians? OP Plz. The same goes for Johnny's / Exile & the other generic boy groups. They choose a ridiculously large number of 'members' so that they cater to a wide variety of otakus' tastes. How long have you been in Japan, mate?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

pack their schedule so tight that they don’t have any unsupervised free time.

Am I hallucinated or something? Am I reading what I think I'm reading?

Fans, if you like an idol soooo much, why not let the idol live a normal life? It looks like that idols are suffering from neo-slavery.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

In some jurisdictions, these guys would be done for trafficking.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Oh... and I get the "sources" are those infamous "anonymous executives." It's just that there's a whiff of something bovine whenever an article uses those as the primary source. More like "vaguely connected hangers-on."

Also, the actual contracts the idols sign are onerous enough and the nature of the gigs and appearances are probably volatile enough to restrict their opportunities for off-the-clock socializing without anyone having to manipulate them or play tricks. I mean, why do you need a sneaky motive to provide the idols with their favorite snacks in the dressing rooms?

The stuff that's vetted as true already damns the idol industry without rumors and anonymous whistle-blowers making these kinds of claims. Not many of which could be redressed legally, if you'll notice. I think that's an important point. Rather than attacking the legality of the contracts and paperwork and start the ball rolling towards idols controlling their own destinies via more equitable contracts, we get these conspiracy theory-level things no one could really do anything about. Juicy stuff to justify the hate-watching, but nothing that requires anyone actually get involved.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

SensatoOCT. 21, 2015 - 07:45AM JST

These techniques are culturally bound and manipulative means used throughout Japanese society of monopolizing people's time to ensure their exclusive commitment to the group (school, organization, team, etc.)

This is exactly what this country is about. Control-freaks unite. And the saddest part is that the sheeple willingly go along with it. I despise bullies and here the number of bullies per square mile must be the highest in the world. How much do these girls get paid to put up with these sub-humane conditions?

14 ( +15 / -1 )

In a nutshell, slavery. Definitely ! How can Japanese laws allow this is out of my mind, no wonder some are calling this country "medieval".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is probably one of the most manipulative articles I've ever read. First of all, idols when they sign their contracts and enter into the idol world know the routine. They know the agreement and commitment they have to do what they are doing and keeping out of relationships for themselves. I love how nobody bats an eye at the fact that the same conditions for idols apply to those who enroll in military and have to endure months of "basic" training without so much as even looking at an attractive female. The whole point is that the idols are doing a JOB, one that is demanding of their time, and the way the management helps keep the idols focused, using these kind of tactics (if this is even true, as people speaking on conditions of "anonymity" allow a lot of freedom to say whatever without actually having anything to back it up. That's more suspicious than what's suggested the talent agencies are doing, IMO), I feel, is very smart. Kind of like how you have to be manipulative when you're a parent in order to get kids to do what you want them to do. Anyone who disagrees with me there probably isn't a parent. If you want "FACTS," how about this? Go watch the AKB documentary that follows around Nakamura Mariko and Shimada Haruka on a typical stretch of work time. Both idols are very much alone often, living by themselves, having to do grocery shopping for themselves, and don't have management breathing down their necks every five seconds. They have PLENTY of alone time to do whatever they want, including finding a boyfriend, if they don't want to be idols anymore. But the fact is, they don't want to do that, because they are driven to try and find success as musicians and idols. It's something nobody here apparently understands, because you would rather take the word of a person who is "anonymous" than watch an actual documentary showcasing how idols really live and work in Japan. If you took five seconds to actually see what it's all about, you wouldn't be calling this kind of thing disgusting, you would realize it's all a fun, interesting subculture with its own set of rules that all make sense in the context of the subculture it predicates.

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

How can Japanese laws allow this is out of my mind,

@Citizen

Good point.

Many of these girls are in their early to mid teens. The long work hours alone, not to mention exploitative contract clauses, are most certainly strictly forbidden under Japan's child labor laws and other worker protections. This is obviously yet another matter of a lack of enforcement of human rights issues rendering these laws toothless.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

It's not slavery if they chose this career.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Alistair Carnell: Manipulative, exploitative bastards.

This article is about keeping idol singers from romantic relationships - not about politicians. ;)  

8 ( +8 / -0 )

These seems counter-intuitive to a degree. If it is known that idols have no chance of going out with anyone, wouldn't fans lose hope in ever going out with them? If an idol were to date a fan from time to time, that would supercharge hope for other fans I would assume

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Idols’ owe their success as much to their looks as their voices

"Voices"?

Also, you don't need the apostrophe after Idols.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

because you would rather take the word of a person who is "anonymous" than watch an actual documentary showcasing how idols really live and work in Japan.

And of course, this "documentary" is 100% true to life as a completely accurate take on how idols live and work.

Also, how many members from the various idol clans are now porn stars? Great industry. Really. Giving young girls a chance to really follow their dreams to become objectified....things.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The reasoning goes that if word gets out that an idol singer has a boyfriend, her fans will feel betrayed that she isn’t solely devoted to her role as a musician and entertainer,

What a crock of crap. Are they serious? Christ, japanese logic and practices here never cease to entertain me.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@crustpunker: The documentary I was referring to wasn't done by AKB. It was done by an objective third party production company. So now on top of idols being fake, you are going to say other companies that have nothing to do with idols are also not trying to show anything objectively? Also, the porn argument doesn't really work with idols. Take AKB for instance. Out of over 250+ Girls who have joined, only 5 in the past ten years have gone on to porn. And all were in AKB or SKE for all of five minutes and didn't really even try to be idols. So yeah, porn objectifies women, sure, I suppose you could argue that, but the idol industry empowers women to be exactly who they want to be. There's way more than five girls who have gone on from AKB to now become exactly what they wanted to be, such as solo artists, seiyus, and big time movie actresses, all of which would've been hard to do had they NOT been in AKB. Also, to compare the idol industry to slavery is insulting to the millions of people worldwide who either were actual slaves or are slaves currently. Girls sign up to be idols, they can get out anytime, and they are expected to work their butts off while being idols. I think the real issue is that so many of us are trained to think that teenagers should sit on their butts at home, watch tv, and work as little as possible, instead of actually hold real jobs and do work they can be proud of later on in their lives. And in Japan, this makes total sense that the girls work to the point of sheer exhaustion, as Japan values work above everything else, even at the expense of not having real relationships. You could probably argue that is what's wrong with Japan as a whole nation, but I would argue counter, that most people in this world have lost the will to work, and expect everything to be just given to them by their parents, or by society. Good for these idols who work long hours to achieve their dreams, and good for the managers who help make it happen by keeping the girls focused on their VOLUNTARY jobs.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Fans, if you like an idol soooo much, why not let the idol live a normal life? It looks like that idols are suffering from neo-slavery

Exactly. I appreciate the works of several female (western) artists. But I ain't gona throw a tantrum if they decide to live normal lives and have boyfriends. What's wrong with these fans and japan's infamous entertainment industry?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sadly though, whenever any of the girls get any, are found out and chucked out, there are plenty more for the band where they came from.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

an objective third party production company.

"3rd partyobjective" by Japanese definition will be => Receiving "donation" to do the documentary and chosen by the idols's management.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@sighclops: Utterly incoherent and baseless? If I remember correctly, I just listed several FACTS, all of which are EASILY found to be FACTS if you do a quick Google search. And I'm hardly being preachy, as that implies I'm trying to sell you on an idea. I'm not, but it's really frustrating when misinformation is spread not only about something I love, i.e., the idol industry, but also about the friends I have that currently work in the idol industry. And you can expect that any single time there is anything involving AKB or about painting idols or the idol industry in a negative light here on JT, I will be here to inject reality into the conversation. And by the way, sighclops, it's against JT's terms of use that when you comment, you insult people on here like you just did to me. Maybe JT should be warned about you, given that I'm not insulting anyone on here with what I'm discussing, just adding a counterpoint view to what obviously goes against the popular and very, very misguided sentiment about the idol industry that this kind of article not only conveys, but cultivates through all the comments here on JT, many of which I could say are the very definition of "baseless," provided nobody ever offers up facts to support what they are saying. At least I do.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

People around the world join armed forces, police, emergency services etc. To do so, they must show devotion and willingness to obey the rules. If the pay isn't great and conditions are strenuous (including a very real possibility of killed), we can assume they are doing it because they want to.

Girl wants to join AKB48 because she likes to sing/dance/be seen as cute or whatever, and has conditions that she agrees to enforced, in return for membership, and suddenly it's exploitation and slavery.

It's not like they've been thrown in a van on the way home from school or university. They sign up because they want to. They continue because they want to. When they no longer want to, they can quit. I assume they are not locked in cages every night.

There's more than a few people in the entertainment industry (not just in Japan) who have it much worse, and they put up with crap living conditions because they want to make it big.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I find Idol otaku like certain someone hilarious trying very hard to defend the indefensible while insisting he is not biased but to no avail. I may be an otaku too but even I feel discomfort with how idol industry works especially the consequence the idols deal with when they are found out that they were in romantic relationships.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

At least they have love hotels and big sunglasses.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

She what happens when these girls are finally burned out? They are tossed.

There ought to be a union for idols. There ought to be labor laws that protect them. There ought be people telling starstruck young women to avoid the idol business.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Aite @djv124

How about them junior idols then. That cool too?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@ReformedBasher: I think that is what most people might not understand is that the idol industry is VOLUNTARY and it requires a huge commitment by those that enter into it, plain and simple. It's not McDonalds and it isn't a steel mill, so unions and things like that go directly against the whole point of being dedicated to what they must endure in order to be successful as an idol. It's not for the faint of heart, which is why I made the comparison to idols not being able to date no different than when soldiers enter into basic training... thank you for reaffirming this point again for me.

@crustpunker: not sure what you're talking about? Junior idols? The average age of AKB, if you want to use them as an example, is 17-18, though they have been getting a lot of younger idols to fill their ranks these days. But if that is what you are referring to, idols who are really young, that's still their decision to make, and they can't do anything without the parent's consent, and they aren't forced to do anything. Actually, the younger idols are fiercely protected by staff and management, at least when it comes to AKB. I think the problem is that most people just don't ever watch anything about idols or go to idol concerts or go to idol handshake events. I mean, you would see that it isn't at all what the media continues to portray idols to be, i.e., perv magnets for older men. The last handshake event I went to for AKB had probably just as many girls and young kids there as they did young high school boys, which is AKB's main demographic. The only ojisans I saw there were chaperoning their grandkids to go meet their oshimens. I honestly give nothing but respect to any girl who dedicates her life to something other than obsessing over boys like an emo hipster, or gorging herself on potato chips while watching television dramas instead of being active with their lives, or worse, getting on the internet and complaining about other girls doing something with their lives, like in comments sections on popular websites.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Don't go to Hotel. If you're seriously falling in love each other and then rent apartment and meet there. If you both do not know how to deal with your situation and then hire me. I'll fix for you.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

" It's very odd that people would want their entertainers artificially manipulated." It's difficult to name an area of Japanese art/entertainment that is not pure artifice ("heightened reality" if you want to put it charitably), beginning with traditional, nature-based arts like bonsai to ikebana to noh to nihonbuyo. Thus the strong preference for melodrama in TV, cinema and "music" is all of a piece.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Isn't there the law that minors (majority age is 20) cannot be at work after a certain time at night, the # of hours per day, and the total # hours working per week?

Many of these are still just minors employees hired workers by the agency (they're not self-employed working for themselves), so still subject to employee laws for minors. As such, the agency cannot make them "be at work" at company time the whole day like full-time adult employees.

(BTW, they're different from soldiers because soldiers involve national security and thus subject to different national security laws.)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

lostrune2: Yes, there are tons of instances where I remember watching something with AKB and as soon as it was like 9pm or 10pm or something, all the younger AKB members had to leave and go home. Minor laws seem to be followed without any problems by bigger idol groups. Not sure about the smaller ones though.

However, you missed the point entirely, I think, about the comparison between idol groups and soldiers. When a soldier enters into basic training, the soldier is not allowed at all to have contact with females until graduating from basic. That's months of training. So the same premise applies to idols, only it's much longer than months of training, it's years of hard work and dedication to the idea of being the queens of a subculture that is built upon the concept of fantasy. This has absolutely nothing to do with abiding by national security laws.... it's about the fact that to become a soldier, you have to take a normal person and make them into hardened machines of war. And to become an idol, you have to leave all the normal stuff that teenagers do behind and become a talented dancer, musician, and superstar in Japan.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

I think the idol system is insane for all kinds of reasons. It's sad that the idols themselves have to live in a gilded cage of sorts. True, they signed up for it in the first place, but I imagine a lot of these situations entail pressure from their parents, who want to shave a little off the money their daughters bring in. Not to mention that some of these women might have self-worth issues that cause them to obsess over fame and "making it", and put themselves through unnecessary tribulations to fuel this dream. These idols, despite getting to enjoy experiences that many people don't get to, are sacrificing some of the development that their non-famous peers go through in the teens and twenties. They aren't getting a chance to learn how to get by in the real world and how to cope with the fact that all the glitz and glamour is going to go away once you're "too old" (ie: early-mid 20s)

As for the fans, it's gross to hear about the fact that the producers want to portray a virginal image to the fans, enhancing these folks' delusions that they could get with the girl. Guys, c'mon... many of you are socially-stunted, shut-ins, or otherwise not the kind of guys these idols would go for when they potentially have a wide variety of men to choose from. Quit fantasizing about some plastic idol falling in love with you, learn how meet women, learn how to talk to them, and get your life together. I'm a nerd myself, so I understand obsessing over something that other people may ridicule you for, but some of these dudes really need to separate their romantic fantasies from the music they listen to.

It's sad. Let musicians (or "musicians" in the case of some idols) have lives... and let the more delusional of the fans figure out how to live their lives without glomming onto impossible fantasies.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Evan, I think it would really do you some good to actually watch an idol concert, or attend an idol handshake event someday. You'll see that there is definitely an otaku obsession over the idols, as that is the point of them being an idols, but it isn't based in this virginal concept. Most otakus know that they have zero chance at all to ever get with their oshimen. And most don't sit there and care one way or the other if the girls are virgins or not (at least the 1000's and 1000's of otaku idol fans I know). Actually, I would say about 90% of the fans adopt more of a big brother role when it comes to their oshis. You never hear even once at an idol concert a fan screaming something sexual to the girls. NEVER. It's more like you hear over and over again, "GANBATTE!" which means good luck, and we wish you well. I've been to so many idols shows I've lost count at this point, and seriously, not one time did I ever see or hear a fan act sexual or even talk sexual about the girls. It's not about that AT ALL.

The problem is that the media that has talked about the idol industry has done so from the fringes of it, i.e., they haven't actually attended shows, or been to handshake events, or even talked with the people directly involved with the day to day aspects of the idol industry. The media has put this terrible idea into so many people's heads that the idol world is all about pervy men wanting to hook up with virginal teens, and they base all of this on one controversial rule of the idol world, which isn't even really a rule at all, but more like a guideline, and that's the no dating or love clause. And everyone just thinks this is SO terrible, but you know what's terrible? Getting knocked up by your boyfriend at age 15. Or getting an abortion because you had a one night stand with a jerk when you were 16. Or getting rejected by everyone because you are a punching bag to your boyfriend at age 17 and you still stand up for the guy. By being an idol, you are simply putting off the wonderful joys of dating and relationships until a later age, in which case you might be able to have enough self-esteem from all the amazing things you did as an idol to actually have the kind of self-respect that would help you through terrible situations like I just described. See my point? By being an idol, you are ALSO avoiding some major bummers when it comes to dating and being with men, which everyone also conveniently forgets is actually more the norm than it is the exception. I mean, seriously, how many girls today can actually say they married their high school sweetheart? Not many, I imagine.

If it were me, I would gladly trade my teenage years and early adult life for a chance to stand onstage and make thousands of people smile every night. I would gladly go to the tsunami affected areas every month like AKB48 has done since March of 2011, and try to spread some free happiness and joy to all the displaced and hurt families in the Tohoku region. I would gladly stand for 8 hours at a handshake session and embrace all my fans, guys and girls and children alike, and let them know I feel so loved by them. And I would gladly skip out on a crummy relationship and wait until I'm older to find a guy who would actually respect me for what I did as a teen and early adult, and also allow me to respect myself as a woman and stand on my own two feet.

And since you talked about fans being delusional, I would also say that the media and those who blindly accept what the media says are the delusional ones. I mean, did you know that in AKB, for instance, there is the rule that if a girl finds somebody to love, AKB's entire group of girls and staff give that girl their full blessings and hope for the best for them? What's not condoned is the betrayal to the girls in the group when a girl decides to skip out on her duties as a member of a team in AKB and start slacking off and not caring about dances and making the group look bad, all because she decided to start having sex. Boyfriends are a distraction to what AKB and many idol groups are trying to accomplish, which is why that guideline exists in the first place. It has nothing to do with projecting a virginal fantasy. That's something the media drummed up. Just sayin.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Kind of like how you have to be manipulative when you're a parent in order to get kids to do what you want them to do

This parent's horrified by that statement.

Apparently 17 of the AKB48 lineup are 14 years old. 2 are 13 years old, and 3 trainees are 11. All being manipulated, and their #1 Fan! is cool with it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AKB48_members

the porn argument doesn't really work with idols. Take AKB for instance. Out of over 250+ Girls who have joined, only 5 in the past ten years have gone on to porn.

This must be sarcasm, it can't be proof of situation normal.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No one have a gun point to the head of any girl/woman who sign this contracts? Nobody is pushing this girls to sign a contract? So who is he fault here? People just not using common sense just saying "Manipulative, exploitative bastards" or "Slevery Agencies". Blame the girls who sign up this contracts. If nobody sign this contract agencies policies will change is simple common sense so use it!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

djv124....ever hear of a "wall of text" and what it means?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

True, they signed up for it in the first place, but I imagine a lot of these situations entail pressure from their parents, who want to shave a little off the money their daughters bring in.

It amazes me how many armchair experts completely overlook the fact that (at least some) girls around the world actually like singing, dancing, etc.

"a lot of these situations" = what exactly? Most? Roughly half? Unless you know the girls, and their parents personally, you are just writing fluff.

Imagine how poorly some of the commenters would do on a debating team or in a court of law.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

SenseNotSoCommon: Tongue in cheek statement, but obviously you didn't get that.

Also, I never said I was their #1 fan. And once again, your comments are EXACTLY the problem here: There are 250+ girls in AKB... where did you get that they have only 17 people in the group? If you do a split demographic comparison of all the girls and their ages, the average turns out to be 17. I don't count the kenkyuseis because a large majority of them don't make it past the training level and thus, never really become part of AKB. And it makes sense that AKB has started to get younger with their demographic, being that they now have a lot of girls in their early twenties (and the idol culture is primarily a teenage based culture), but so what? What's your point by bringing that up?

5 girls out of 250+ (again, not counting the trainees.. if I did, the number would be much, much higher) entering into AV is proof of situation normal, because if I took a sample selection of 250 18 year and older gilrs in the entertainment industry and tallied up how many of them took their clothes off for money in a movie, well, that number would be much, much higher, now wouldn't it?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I can't believe people are using the "They signed the contracts, no one put a gun to their heads" defense.

These contracts aren't limiting their talent from dangerous activities like skydiving or even motorcycle riding like some stars are forbidden from doing for insurance purposes.

These contracts are telling young woman and girls you can't love or date because you belong to us and you belong to all of these men out there who want to feel like you are theirs, their property, their "dolls".

Forbidding love is brainwashing, stunting normal human development.

These girls sign these contracts because so many girls before them have and they're desperate to fulfill their dreams and these companies are preying on the desperate and counting on the fact these girls won't fight back for better treatment because they're scared, they're naive.

The girls sign the contracts because no one before has fought back to make the companies change.

These girls apparently don't have anyone to fight for them, to unite them. Former idols who realize they were treated poorly need to speak out, start their own company and maybe change the system that way.

Because until former child idols speak out about being mistreated like this, these management companies will just keep forcing these obscene contracts on these kids and their ignorant parents.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

@Yubaru: Ever hear of the phrase, "I could care less if you like it or not?"

Until JT puts a word restriction on what we write, I'm free to write and state my opinion, however long it may be, and in case you didn't notice, everyone, as usual, likes to attack everything I'm saying, because nobody here likes hearing the truth about the idol industry. So it gets kind of lengthy when I have ten different people that I have to respond to because they are calling me out personally. And also, if you don't like it, well... wait for it... wait for it....

DON'T READ IT! lol

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

@Harvey if girl/woman are not able to read the small text of a contract, they just can't go through a legal aid or paid a lawyer before to sign a contract? Someone is stopped them?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

harvey pekar: You make it sound like it's this sweatshop and these girls have no mind of their own and can't make conscious decisions on their own either. I dunno, but to me, that's way more degrading of a thought to put out there about the collective Japanese teenage female population as a whole than anything anyone has said so far about idols and their contracts. You basically are saying that because they are young, they are too stupid to realize what they are doing, or that they don't have parents who don't go over these contracts with a fine tooth comb to make sure their little daughters aren't about to get caught up in some kind of nasty business. I guess in that sense, you are also making a blanket statement that all the parents of these young girls are imbeciles too that don't care one iota for their daughters. Uh, okay.

Also, do you know why no child idol has come out and said anything that they were mistreated? Because there isn't any kind of mistreatment going on, or at least if it is, it's not the norm but the exception.

You should really go back and read my comments a few comments above yours, as many girls in AKB, at least, actually WANT to focus on dancing and singing and becoming the best idols and women that they can be. They don't feel the need to have a man to make them whole, or to experience first love when they are teenagers. Many AKB girls have come out and said that there is a time and place for that sort of thing, but they have been given a gift and a chance to do something very few people in this world get to do, and they don't want to ruin their dedication and devotion to that gift of being an entertainer. The rule (which is actually a guideline, by the way, not even a real rule) is in place to keep hormonal girls FOCUSED on being the best possible entertainers they can be, that's all. And it's also pretty common knowledge if you are an AKB fan and actually subscribe to all the things that AKB does that when a member of AKB finds real love, none of the girls, not management, nor any of the staff, believe it's their place to stand in the way of that. The girl who finds real love is supported, not turned away, or shunned, or mistreated.

Take Ayaka Kikuchi, who graduated AKB I believe last year, and who now is married and has children. She left AKB only recently. She wasn't screwed up at all by her decision to stay abstinent while in AKB... quite the contrary. She found real love real fast and now is a proud parent too. Kikuchi has been on several Japanese national magazines lately showing off her beautiful child, and all of her AKB friends are right there with her.

Ayaka Kikuchi was only 14 when she entered AKB.

I mean, she's one of many examples that disproves just how seedy and horrific it is to be an idol in Japan. Seems to me like it helped prepare to be a great mother and a great wife, and she has a ton of self-respect for her, and a future career in the entertainment industry, all because she decided to join the terrible idol world that is full of managers and staffers who want only to exploit young 14 year olds and turn them into their money machines.

Tell that to Ayaka.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Hi, @Joshua Degreiff

I'm not saying these girls or their legal guardians don't know what is in the contracts, I'm saying just because a worker signs a contract, it doesn't make a contract right with the demands it's asking.

Labor history is filled with companies making absurd or criminal demands in their contracts like forcing people to work overtime with no pay or child labor in factories before child labor laws.

These companies are getting away with immoral demands because no one has stood up to them like what has happened in prior examples of unfair and unjust employment conditions. It is actually really upsetting to think with all of these former idols out there that no one has stood up and demanded laws be changed for what the companies can ask of young girls.

Cause the problem is, no matter how many girls refuse the contract, there are 10 more who will sign it and that makes it harder for anyone who wants fair treatment. So, a law needs to happen so the desperate can be saved from themselves and the companies can be punished.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The idol thing is a fake world based on illusion. They are basically talentless and far from innocent - so the illusion of talent and innocence is manufactured. "Idol Rights" is way down on my list of priorities.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Harvey, you are looking at the contracts idols sign as though you are from the Western World. I suppose you probably have a problem with dogs getting eaten in Korea too.

The problem is that in Japan, for over 20 plus years, the idol world has pretty much had the same subculture set up that nobody has a problem with except, apparently, westerners and outsiders who don't understand a thing about Japanese culture, the concept of working for the better of the group and not the individual, and even worse, just assume that the contract idols sign goes against child labor laws. But whose laws are you referring too? Because I would think in 20 years by now, Japanese government would've shut this down if they had a problem with it. And since they don't have a problem with it, and the parents of the TEENAGE children don't have a problem with it, and the children who sign these contracts don't have a problem with it, then why do you?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

djv124,

Truth about the idol industry? You've got blinders on, friend.

[Y]ou would see that [the idol industry] isn't at all what the media continues to portray idols to be, i.e., perv magnets for older men.

The industry had all but admitted that its core consumer demographic is middle-aged men. Meanwhile, the youngest member of Morning Musume at debut: 12. Youngest member of AKB48 at debut: 11. The average age of Momoiro Clover at the time of their debut was 15 and they are currently planning a concert in Fukuoka for male fans only.

That the marketing and sales strategies for these idols is centered almost exclusively on their sexuality is something that even their own managers openly admit, citing it as a cornerstone of their market value.

You are being intellectually dishonest to even suggest that these idols aren't being groomed to tap into the buying power of horny middle-aged men. Perverse is precisely the word I would choose to describe this kind of business model.

idols who are really young, that's still their decision to make...

We're talking about an industry whose sole product is predicated almost exclusively on its sexual titillation power, i.e., girls can't date because they need to perpetuate the fantasy that their fans have a chance to be intimate with them. The dancing and singing are secondary to the real selling point. I know it. You know it. Their managers know it. These girls know it. And worst of all, their parents know it.

And don't even get me started on the absurdity of suggesting that if these girls' parents are okay with it, then everything must naturally be okay. The entertainment world the globe over is littered with the tragic, broken wreckage of child entertainers whose parents pimped them out to the industry as a quick path to wealth and comfort under the hopes that their child would be the next big thing.

Meanwhile, Japan consistently ranks in the 100th percentile for countries in terms of gender parity, with women at an overwhelming disadvantage as Japanese society trundles into the 21st century unabashedly favoring and extolling the virtues of a patriarchy that keeps men firmly at the peak of the economic and social pecking order.

Against this backdrop, any minor, particularly one who is 11, 12, or 13 most certainly does not possess the emotional maturity or faculties to make any sort of truly informed decision when signing these ludicrous contracts, regardless of their parents' involvement in the process.

And I won't even go into the absurdity of you implying that an illegal contract becomes somehow magically acceptable and binding by virtue of mom and dad signing off on it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

However, you missed the point entirely, I think, about the comparison between idol groups and soldiers.

I think you missed my point. They're governed by different laws because of the national security trajectory of their employment, and soldiers got to be adults. It's government laws for the soldiers; it's just company policies for the idols that they have to follow. For soldiers, it's a matter of life or death, not only for themselves but for those they protect, and so the necessary higher requirements.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Disgusting! You could easily replace the word "idol" with "slave" in this article and wouldn't read any different.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

its not much different to breeding animals, keep the sexes in different pens until its time to breed or when there too old to perform (eg race horses) put them to pasture, or cut them loose in J idol terms. Poor girls are just slaves

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This article reminds me of my boyfriend's boss: He makes him work from 10am to 11pm so we can't have any privacy or spend a nice evening together thumbs up This country is sick.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@LFRAgain, Oh man, do you have the blinders on big time.

Where do I even begin with the "absurdity" of what you talked about? For starters, you stated that the core demographic of the idol industry are middle-aged MEN. It's not, not even by a long shot. The core demographic are TEENAGE BOYS and YOUNG ADULT MEN. To even imply that it's middle-aged men means you've been drinking the media Kool-aid like everyone else who has never attended an idol concert, or been to an idol handshake event. I have done these things MANY times, and just based on hundreds of hours of my own personal observation, I actually see more teenage boys than anyone else, followed by young girls, and kids. The only middle-aged men I have ever seen at idol events, particularly AKB-related events, are there chaperoning their KIDS. So yeah, unless you've seen it firsthand, you are just perpetuating the same falsehoods that the media is doing, and so your argument is instantly moot to me in this regard.

Sexual titillation? Really? The entire idol industry to you is nothing more than flesh market? Did it ever occur to you that maybe an enormous amount of idol fans love the music, the dancing, and the personalities of the girls more than their looks? In fact, if you look at a lot of the AKB girls, there aren't too many that are easy on the eyes... most look like normal, everyday girls. And sure, there are some really, really beautiful girls in AKB, and some of these beauties do gravure work, but why shouldn't they? If they are blessed with perfect bodies, should they just all wear habits and hide what they've been naturally blessed with? I'm obviously not talking about the underage girls, or at least I hope you realize that.

But honestly.... have you actually stopped to listen to more than a few songs by any idol groups? There are some absolutely AMAZING songs sung by them! And there are some phenomenally talented singers in groups like AKB. Ever hear Sayanee sing? She is beyond incredible. And dancing wise? Put Matsui Jurina next to the world's best dancers, and she can stand her own easily with them. So saying they are just a bunch of meat puppets is actually really, really insulting. There are MANY idols in the industry who have extraordinary talents and personalities, and the management pushes that more than anything else. In fact, I just watched an AKB variety show in which dealt with them talking to Japanese teenagers about real world issues, like suicide, not having self-esteem, and bullying. AKB can get sexy at times, but it's not what it's about at all. Out of their 500 songs, around 4 songs suggest anything even remotely sexual... the rest of them deal with finding real love, or just being plain silly, or being super serious (like their one song that honored a wota who was killed and who was one of their biggest fans). Want tittillation? You must be thinking of K-POP my friend.

I don't see how I'm being absurd at all by stating that the parents of a young Japanese girl who wants to become an idol don't have lawyers who look over the contracts for them and help them make an informed decision on whether or not to sign the contract because it somehow is exploitative of children. There must be a lot of lawyers in Japan who don't know what they are doing, I guess. Or worse, you imply that a lot of parents wouldn't pull their child out of an idol group if they felt even a little bit that there was a problem or their child was suffering from it. You aren't giving a lot of credit to Japanese families, and that's kind of sad to me. Most Japanese Moms I know are FIERCE when it comes to protecting their children.

Even if an idol contract states that a person can't enter into a sexual relationship, that's actually legal even in Western worlds. Look at companies that prohibit co-workers from dating, or once again, soldiers who sign a contract and aren't allowed to have sex for several months while going through basic training. It's the same thing... companies asking their employees to give up things that seem horrifying to the outside eye to give up, but in reality, it's for the better good of the group as a whole. If a soldier is too busy having sex, he might not learn how to shoot a gun, and that could mean his friends could die next to him in battle because he can't defend them. And if an idol starts having sex, she may start screwing up, or worse, if she ends up breaking up with a boyfriend, she might not be able to focus or have a chance to really do her job properly, and she hurts the group as a whole as a result. Again, it's Japanese group mentality thinking... this idea of girls signing a contract to not date or have sex because the idol world wants to appeal to pervy middle aged men is a MYTH perpetuated by the media, as this rule (which is a guideline really) is in place to keep things running smooth, and that's all.

Last point... bringing up Japan's social gender issues is kind of 2002, no? Everyone knows Japanese women rule Japan. I'm married to a Japanese woman, who by the way fully supports the idol world and sees it as an absolutely positive force in Japan, and she would be the first to tell you that women in Japan have made HUGE leaps and strides in the past twenty years, and once again, it's a media perpetuated myth that women in Japan are somehow far, far behind. Want proof? Look up who is the most successful and richest Japanese musical artist living today and who made the most money in the past ten years. Hint: It's a woman.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

@djv124

Yes, there are tons of instances where I remember watching something with AKB and as soon as it was like 9pm or 10pm or something, all the younger AKB members had to leave and go home. Minor laws seem to be followed without any problems by bigger idol groups. Not sure about the smaller ones though.

This is true, those of high school age must not work after 10pm.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@nippon234: Thanks Nippon! I couldn't remember if it was 9 or 10. Much obliged.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

This is true, those of high school age must not work after 10pm.

Their agency shouldn't keep track of 'em after 10pm (not company time)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Hi, @djv124

"Harvey, you are looking at the contracts idols sign as though you are from the Western World."

No, I'm looking at these contracts from the modern world. Fair labor practices or treating employees as human beings isn't a Western world, it's a civilized one.

"...the concept of working for the better of the group and not the individual..."

There is nothing about these contracts that are for the betterment of the group. Everyone is hardly being treated equal. Japan does many things right, but the "idol culture" or the treatment of idols isn't one of them.

"And since they don't have a problem with it, and the parents of the TEENAGE children don't have a problem with it, and the children who sign these contracts don't have a problem with it, then why do you?"

Ha! And you know they don't have a problem with this how? You think these girls like having to sneak around, being shamed in the media when they're seen leaving apartments or these girls enjoy crying on TV and apologizing and or shaving their head because they are guilty of dating for god's sake?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Dvj124. - there isn't any mistreatment going on? Cos if if there was it would be reported by the stellar news media here. Of course!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I don't think u will receive the best out of ur employee if u will dehumanise his/her development, personal or intellectual. Japan's entertainment industry is slacking, oftentimes just boring in part because of these kinds of ruthless and mostly hidden practices, with corrupt old men on top of everything.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Harvey Pekar:

Did you just bring up Minami's head shaving scandal? I can't even talk about this anymore with you, considering that was one incident, a knee jerk reaction, and now a funny joke among all the AKB members that didn't do anything at all to Minami's career. In fact, she's now a captain of one of AKB's team, and one of the most respected and treasured idols in the idol world. Yep, that really hurt her.

Or uh, hey, what about Sasshi? She had a scandal, screwed around, and now is the current number one ranked AKB member, getting the most votes any member in AKB's history has ever received during their annual Sousenkyo. She's been the ace TWICE. Yep, she was just SOOOOO ashamed and upset about what happened that her life was completely over, right? Me thinks not.

Fair is relative, don't you think? And clearly you are invoking the Western concept of "fair" when you are talking about contracts in Japan. And again, you are moving away from the REALITY of the idol world. Idols are treated very, very fairly by their management and agencies, unless giving idols spots in TV commercials, variety shows, making them superstars and worshipped by all, and helping them go on after being an idol to become famous actresses or seiyus or solo artists is "unfair." But these things aren't free, and the contract in place makes sure these girls work their butts off achieve THEIR dreams, and not anyone elses. And yeah, management makes money of the pursuit of these dreams by the girls, but, duh, that's modern capitalism 101. You still haven't said a single thing that is verifiable proof that idols are this oppressed working class who have it so bad. They don't, and I've provided many instances of proof of this.

@savethegaijin: Not disputing that Japan still has work to do in terms of achieving gender equality, but that's true of every country in the world, some more than others. But how this has anything to do with the idol world is where I take objection... and my anecdotal evidence is the best evidence to prove that idols aren't being oppressed because of they are females. The highest paid musician in Japan is a female, and a former idol, and if things were as bad and as mysogynistic as everyone claims the idol world to be, this couldn't happen.

More to the point, the idol world isn't a reflection of Japan's lack of gender progression, but a reflection of empowerment. The problem is that articles like the one we're discussing now are built on baseless facts that continue to only point out the very few missteps the idol world has had, and call that the norm. It's not, and the problem that keeps happening is that all the people who criticize the idol world actually have ZERO experience with it, and only read and see what media say about it, all of which is, of course, the negative stuff, because negative sells in the news. Spend five hours today, watch every AKB program you can online, rent the AKB documentary The Show Must Go On, and witness the incredible works of charity these girls did for the tsunami victims of Japan (and still do), deal with growing up as national idols, feel like failures and cry because they couldn't perform well live at their first Dome tour and NOT because they had a scandal, and most of all, listen to how educated and smart and incredibly perceptive and STRONG the girls are in AKB in this documentary. If you can honestly look me in the face afterwards and say there is some kind of gender equality problem in the idol world, well... I can't say what I want to say here, but it involves you doing something to nuts.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

@harvey pekar

Fair labor practices or treating employees as human beings isn't a Western world, it's a civilized one.

Is that right?

I know many Japanese who have contracts as part time employees and they are not informed of their legal holiday entitlement under the labour law and or even take any holiday entitlement, as many employees are ignorant of the law and when they are aware they feel they are breaking the harmony if they point out their legal right to their employers.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Where do I even begin with the "absurdity" of what you talked about? For starters, you stated that the core demographic of the idol industry are middle-aged MEN. It's not, not even by a long shot. The core demographic are TEENAGE BOYS and YOUNG ADULT MEN.

It's not. Have you ever been to one of these AKB48 cafes ? I mean the customers going there. Obviously not.

If they are blessed with perfect bodies, should they just all wear habits and hide what they've been naturally blessed with? I'm obviously not talking about the underage girls, or at least I hope you realize that.

Okay. First of all, they're not "naturally blessed". Many of gravures do have plastic surgery AND many of them are underage. Or wear school uniforms to please Japanese middle age men. No need to deny that.

But honestly.... have you actually stopped to listen to more than a few songs by any idol groups? There are some absolutely AMAZING songs sung by them! And there are some phenomenally talented singers in groups like AKB.

Oh yeah, I'm always stunned by their "phenomenal talent".

Last point... bringing up Japan's social gender issues is kind of 2002, no? Everyone knows Japanese women rule Japan. I'm married to a Japanese woman, who by the way fully supports the idol world and sees it as an absolutely positive force in Japan, and she would be the first to tell you that women in Japan have made HUGE leaps and strides in the past twenty years

What the ... How long have you been living here ? Obviously not long enough. Turn on your TV tonight and tell me more about Japanese women empowerment.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Many idols are teenagers. Contractual obligation is good for them. No boyfriends during teen years means no early or unwanted pregnancy. Besides that they have already well established in their career and enviable bank account before they become adult. One Idol success is good for her collages, her company and her parents. When the iron is hot, sword smith needs to strike it very hard for making quality swords. Idols will not young forever.

Harry Potter movie sequels have made all Child actors hit the jackpot before they have grown up. Emma Watson is a Millionaire before she can vote for election. Those girls have freedom to refuse to sign the contract. Their parents have also agreed their girls choices.

I prefer teenagers are contributing the Japanese economy and their families bank account with their talents instead of becoming teen mothers and drug addicts from other western nations.

Japan needs more AKB48 for teen pop culture export. God bless the idols, fans and management teams.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

now a funny joke among all the AKB members that didn't do anything at all to Minami's career. In fact, she's now a captain of one of AKB's team, and one of the most respected and treasured idols in the idol world

The dissonance is strong in this one.

Or uh, hey, what about Sasshi? She had a scandal, screwed around, and now is the current number one ranked AKB member, getting the most votes any member in AKB's history has ever received during their annual Sousenkyo. She's been the ace TWICE

Obsess much? Remind me to give Akihabara a WIDE BERTH for safety's sake.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@ZainichiOnna: I've been to the AKB cafe many times, and all I see there are young teens and college age adults. The last time I was there, there was a young girl there who travelled all the way from Hokkaido to visit the cafe with her mother. She kept looking at the coaster I received for ordering my drink, the one that has a random AKB girl's face on it, and I gave it to her. She was thrilled.

Didn't see any pervy old men hiding in the corners anywhere, sorry to say.

Since you obviously are speaking rather contemptuously about idol groups and their music, my guess is you just don't like idol music, so that's an unwinnable argument. To each his own on that one.

Gravure girls in Japan are usually, on average, quite natural. You are confusing KPOP with the JPOP idol industry. As for wearing school uniforms to please Japanese middle age men, where are you coming up with that? Can you provide proof of that? Because to me, it's more practical... the girls are dressing THEIR age, instead of trying to dress up as Barbies or like 50 year old women, which they aren't. Make sense?

I've lived in Japan for over 8 years, been to hundreds of idol shows, seen thousands of TV programs... not sure how you can even begin to say that Japanese women aren't empowered. You must be watching Middle Eastern TV programs. The last show I just saw was a Japanese variety show that featured three girls kicking every guy's butt on the program, followed by a dorama starring a female as the lead role, and that was followed by a popular female newscaster giving a pretty sweet report about some coffee shop in Kameido. And in between all of these things were commercials featuring several ex-AKB members and current ones too. Yep, Japanese women are really, really oppressed aren't they?

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

djv124 is making some great arguments in a very hostile thread. Kudos!

Show business has always required much more sacrifice than any other line of work. The ultimate prize of fame and riches means that people will do anything to be one of the few who come out on top. Nobody is forcing them - they have to want it badly. Talking about it as though it's just another line of work is ridiculous.

If people knew what some of their favorite stars were willing to do to make it in Hollywood, they would be quite shocked. Not all of them, but many of them have done some very distasteful things to get ahead. You can't legislate this stuff away. When there is something that so many people want so badly, the gatekeepers are going to be harsh and often corrupt. AKB is not Johnnys. At least they try to keep the girls away from sex, not coerce them into it.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

@commanteer: Thanks for the kudos!

Seriously, it's like this every single time I get on here, which is usually when something is written about AKB or about the idol world in general. I hate that most people think something I love so deeply is this profound cesspool of vile manipulation. I didn't even want to bring up the fact that I know a member of AKB personally, as her family is friends with my family, and the things she has told me about what really goes on inside of AKB is nothing and I mean, NOTHING, like what the media perpetuates. It's almost comical to see this many people believe so blindly the things they hear and read in the media about AKB and about idol groups in general. And you are right, the Johnny's... those guys are nasty. They have some serious problems in their units, but go to any AKB show, and I can probably guarantee most guys wouldn't even want to have sex with any of the AKB girls, simply because it's more about protecting them and supporting them than thinking you could ever get with them. I mean, hello, in ten years of doing handshakes, there hasn't been a single reported incident of a fan trying to kiss an AKB member, or hug a member, or try to ra*e a member. Not once. That's saying something.

Also, somebody mentioned that Momoiro Clover Z is going to hold an all male show... this isn't a big deal, as shows sometimes take themes such as all male, or all female. In fact, AKB has had TONS of all female only shows at the Akihabara theater in their past, and recently, Paruru from AKB reported she is going to do a female only meet and greet for anyone who buys her fashion book that is coming out. This kind of thing completely trounces any idea that the idol world is setup solely for pervy old men. Nope, it isn't, and there are so many factual examples to prove it, versus the media's portrayal of the idol world as evil, and yet no media article so far has been able to give any evidence of this actually being true, at least as far as AKB and some of the larger idol groups in Japan is concerned.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

but many of them have done some very distasteful things to get ahead. but very few western stars have exploited there bodies.sexuality at a minors age eg below 16yrs. expolitation of minors has brought along many problems in many different cultures, Japan is not immune. Feeding young, and middle aged men images of underage girls in skimpy costumes will just make them more feel its ok to date or have sexual relations with minors

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@wtfjapan: Again, you are confusing the main demographic of idol groups, which is TEENAGE BOYS AND YOUNG ADULT MEN, not middle-age grownups. This isn't the case at all, and if you were to attend even a single idol event, you'll see this to be true.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

This method is so effective that one talent manager says he can tell when an idol has secretly found a boyfriend, because she’ll suddenly start wanting to know the details of her work schedule farther in advance

Because god forbid she might want to take a trip or do something with her family.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@kaynide: Please, not you too? Don't drink the kool-aid!

In a recent documentary put out objectively about AKB, it showed Sasshi, the queen ace and arguably one of the most in demand and busiest idols in the entire world, going to spend time with her Grandma to eat with her and talk about old times.

In a similar documentary, the next Soukantoku for Akb, Yokoyama Yui, went home to vote in the national elections in Japan, along with her father. She spent time with them and celebrated with them. Work did not come home with her.

In a past variety show, it was discussed how Mayuyu Watanabe went to Hawaii on vacation with other AKB members, to enjoy three days of fun and private time.

Do I really need to go on? I caution anyone who reads articles like this one on JT to really stop and look at actual FACTS, not supposed "anonymous" people in the idol industry talking about how devious management has to be to keep their employees in check.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

djv124OCT. 21, 2015 - 09:19PM JST Please, not you too? Don't drink the kool-aid! In a recent documentary put out objectively about AKB, it showed Sasshi, the queen ace and arguably one of the most in demand and busiest idols in the entire world, going to spend time with her Grandma to eat with her and talk about old times.

Nobody drank kool-aid. We are talking common sense that perhaps the idols want sufficient time of privacy rather than being followed by the camera when she's taking a trip with her family.

And I swear people nowadays uses the word 'objective' too much, it lost its true meaning. Do Japanese documentaries ever show the ugly side of Idol business like sometimes how there is a lunatic at an autograph event trying to injure the girls with a knife? If there's one, I'd like to see.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In a recent documentary put out objectively about AKB, it showed Sasshi, the queen ace and arguably one of the most in demand and busiest idols in the entire world, going to spend time with her Grandma to eat with her and talk about old times.

Earth to djv124: documentaries are work.

There's a daihon, there are multiple uchiawase, and there's always more than one take.

In a similar documentary... Work did not come home with her.

Of course it didn't. There was no script, no director, no rottweiler AD, no cameramen, lighting or location vans. Nothing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@djv24:

Even if you're right about the idols not being on schedule 24/7 and otherwise having a good life, being what they want to be (which I don't quite agree with, but), you can't dismiss the multiple cases about idols dating and all the drama it constantly creates. And that is sick. It is scary that a corporation can control a person's life to that degree. Young people's brain aren't fully developed. This means they aren't able to foresee consequences of their actions very well, so of course they don't know how big a deal it is when they sign these contracts. It IS a demanding job, but there are many, many other very demanding jobs, yet this is pretty much the only industry where dating isn't allowed. Isn't that odd?

You keep talking about documentaries. Even if these documentaries are produced by third-party companies, do you really think the idols' managers and so on will allow them to show just anything? I bet they've had a hand in the finished product, as to not cause drama.

You also talk about how it's been tradition in Japan, how the government naturally would have gotten rid of it if it was bad, but this shows that you're the one who doesn't quite understand Japan. Let me tell you about something else the government haven't been quite willing to get rid of: the Yakuza. Not exactly angels, they are allowed to thrive and run their businesses, because they generate money and huge support to political figures of their choice. Just because something has been going on for long and the government hasn't gotten rid of it, it doesn't mean it's a good thing.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@djv124:

I don't care what you believe; If the talent handler's first conclusion about a girl needing to know her schedule is because she has a boyfriend (As quoted in the article) , then something is off.

Moreover, as just said, documentaries are work. On top of that, as you said, documentaries were made to show people "look! we top shelf idols do stuff in our free time!"

I highly doubt low level girls get the same treatment as the "queen ace" girls.

You're asking for facts, but frankly the situation for women as a whole in this country is enough for me to believe these girls are treated like trash.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@sensenotsocommon: I have never met an idol or a person who was the subject of a documentary that was told they "had" to do it. If they had, that would be considered "work." When you are being filmed in your private life to do what you do naturally, that's not "work" even in the least, because it's VOLUNTARY for an idol to be the subject of a documentary, or at least the ones I was referring to. So no, you are 100% incorrect to call it work.

@jonorth: I do agree that Japan isn't this perfect, awesome place, and it's government has done nothing but the right thing. There are plenty of things they've got wrong for years. Your example of the Yakuza is a good example. However, why would the government of Japan get rid of the idol world? Last year, AKB was the single biggest economic contributor to Japan's economy, pulling in 1 BILLION dollars in both tourism and merchandise sales and concerts, etc. And not only that, AKB is the ONLY national idol group that regularly goes to the Tohoku region to help the tsunami victims. They've gone over 51+ times since 2011. I think the Japanese government realizes there is something inherently good about the idol world, and all the good it does for Japan as a whole. You could argue, I suppose, it's at the expense of the young girls who are involved in it, but everyone constantly forgets that nobody is forcing these girls to do anything they don't want to. They are surrounded by adults who take care of them and try to help them with their issues and problems they have. You are assuming that the Japanese people who are in the position to care for the idols they work with don't know how to have compassion, or don't have the ability to understand the psychological development of young teenagers. You would think psychology isn't taught in Japan to anyone.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

@djb How many idols do you know?

And do you even realize how many movie stars, etc, DO have to do things like documentaries/commercials as part of their contract?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@kaynide: I know around 50 or so idols from Japan.

Correction: idols may be part of overall documentary efforts that relate to the group, but all idols can decide for themselves if they want to be part of a documentary showcasing their personal side of things. It's not required. That's beyond misleading to even suggest this.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

@djv: I'm not talking about meet'n greets/handshakes/had a conversation at the AKB cafe "I know them". I'm talking close friends, or close enough that you would know intimate details of their contract.

They're obligated to tell fans sugar coated nonsense to keep them buying their goods. If an idol was truly free to do whatever they wanted in their free time, why would they not be able to date? And if that integral part of social interaction is being blocked, it's not really hard to imagine other things being stretched...

Plus we have quotes in the article from actual managers that do not back your claims at all.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@kaynide: I know around 50 or so idols personally, as in I know them as people, have established friendships with them, and know their families and have socialized with them at family gatherings. This includes a close friend who is still part of AKB.

I feel like I'm just batting my head against a brick wall at how nobody is giving even the slightest bit of attention to the fact that many, many girls in the idol world actually don't WANT to be in relationships because it will inhibit their growth as entertainment artists. And many girls who decide they want to be in relationships quit and devote themselves to those relationships. In the history of AKB, for instance, not ONE SINGLE GIRL has ever been fired for the no dating rule. Not one. This is another assumption that people make... all girls left voluntarily, some even doing so to make a statement of warning to the other girls that they should stay focused on the gift of a lifetime they've been given, rather than getting a piece of man butt that probably will not last past a brief sexual tryst or two. People put off dating and not being with members of the opposite sex all the time for a greater good, such as to be part of a musical act solely focused on working hard at being idols. Yet this concept seems to be really impossible for people here to grasp, and that it is somehow psychologically destructive to a young teenage girl if she doesn't get her first kiss at age 15 and has sex by age 16, or is "forced" to be onstage in front of thousands of fans of all ages and sexes, and then treated like goddesses offstage by staff and fans alike. People need to actually spend time looking at the idol world they are condemning, instead of holding onto enormous assumptions about what really goes on with idol groups as a whole.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

@Djv: Fired? No, but attempted to be sued into oblivion until they quit/opt to not continue their contract? Oh yes...

You seem to forget that here in Japan (or not know) that for contractual reasons, it is incredibly difficult to fire people, in many businesses. So, it is common to bully/threaten or otherwise harass workers until they quit. Case and point Jin Akanishi from Johnny's.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If the image was cheap and slutty, they would be a hit in Amerika.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

People who really want to do exceptional things make sacrifices. Olympic athletes are often teens and young adults who have dedicated nearly all of their time outside of school to perfecting their sport. Professional athletes are similar. Kids who really want to get into a selective college pack their schedule with extracurriculars and spend more time on their studies than their peers. Kids in idol groups want to perform. Some, perhaps many, take performance classes for years before entering a group.

Talent agencies are like car dealerships. Some take advantage of you. Others treat you well for the lifetime of your car. Some people will go to a shady car dealer, never perceive problems with the transaction or the car, and be happy with their experience. Others will be treated like gold at a good dealership, but find themselves unhappy with the service, or even find that the car isn't what they expected.

I won't criticize kids for wanting to be idols. I won't criticize fans for liking what they like. There is supply and demand on all fronts, so the idol industry exists. I do think it's important to enforce child labor standards and sanction or shut down agencies that don't comply. If society thinks the child labor standards aren't strong enough, people need to lobby to change them.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

many, many girls in the idol world actually don't WANT to be in relationships because it will inhibit their growth as entertainment artists

For "don't WANT to be in relationships because it will inhibit their growth as entertainment artists," read scared witless.

Growth, my (still shapely but slightly overweight) behind!

These are dysfunctional humans leading unnatural lives, which will be the downfall of this country.

People need the love that adoring fans can't provide, in order to grow into real stars, not the cookie-cutter malleable mediocrity that the Jimusho regurgitate with painful predictability.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Harvey I'm not saying these girls or their legal guardians don't know what is in the contracts, I'm saying just because a worker signs a contract, it doesn't make a contract right with the demands it's asking

So parent are mentally incapable to going through a lawyer to have some legal advice to their children?

Can you answer me that what is purpose of a lawyer in this life if isn't seeking legal help to not getting screw up in this lifetime?

Labor history is filled with companies making absurd or criminal demands in their contracts like forcing people to work overtime with no pay or child labor in factories before child labor laws.

Yes because people just stand up, I don't know if you like J-Pop or any kind of Japanese music but if you do, don't buy any music of any kind of the music label from Japanese music label record because you're contributed this companies continued doing that, as your information consumer make companies growing.

*These companies are getting away with immoral demands because no one has stood up to them like what has happened in prior examples of unfair and unjust employment conditions. It is actually really upsetting to think with all of these former idols out there that no one has stood up and demanded laws be changed for what the companies can ask of young girls.

Cause the problem is, no matter how many girls refuse the contract, there are 10 more who will sign it and that makes it harder for anyone who wants fair treatment. So, a law needs to happen so the desperate can be saved from themselves and the companies can be punished.*

So like I say they can't going through a lawyer? Like Bill Gates says " if you born poor isn't not your fault, but if you die poor is your fault"

Here is not excuses if you are not able to read or understand a contract go to a lawyer if your legal guardians or parents are ignorants or mentally incapable to reason so go to a lawyer. It's just simple common sense. When you don't know nothing about any topic what you do in your life? You seek help right? Because no man born to know everything about anything.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@SenseNotSoCommon: so yeah, Kikuchi Ayaka is "insanely dysfunctional" since she was in AKB. Or Ohori Megumi. Or Mikapon... ALL proud mothers and happily married now that they've left AKB. Or Maeda Atsuko... she's one of the biggest actresses in Japan. Or Yuko Oshima, another horribly dysfunctional girl who did nothing less than guest commentate on the World Cup the day after her graduation. And none of the girls mentioned above have, since leaving AKB, been in any kind of scandal, or problem, or broken any kind of Japanese laws. And every single one of the girls I just mentioned, except for Ohori, were around 14 when they started in AKB. Yep, horribly dysfunctional all right.

Kaynide: I don't disagree with you that there might be bullying with contracts. That is definitely seen with Johnny idols, but I'm not defending them. I don't know much about them or care to know much about them. As far as the girls in AKB go, which is where I'm basing all of my arguments, that just doesn't happen. I asked my friend in AKB about this and she kind of laughed and told me that it's a give and take with management, but it isn't coercion ever when it comes to a girl wanting to leave AKB. However, I won't deny that coercion might exist a lot more in Japan than, say, in America. Japanese people love to take the side road when it comes to avoiding direct confrontation. @daito_hak: Ohhhh man, late to the party, aren't ya?

Minami Minegishi, the girl who "shaved her head," did so in 2013, not last year, so right there, it's clear you have NO idea what you're talking about. Also, she wasn't forced to do it. She did it on her own accord, as it was a knee jerk reaction to the fact that she had been caught breaking the rules of AKB. She's a first generation member, one of three first gens left in AKB, which means she's been doing this for 10 years. The thought of losing something she has wholly dedicated her life too, she has explained, is why she did it. But she really didn't think about it either. AKB's management didn't approve it even one bit. Also, it's now a point of silliness among AKB members. Miichan has made so many jokes about it by this point that the real issue here is the fact people keep dragging it up as their only defense to the whole idol groups shouldn't employ kids argument. In fact, Miichan is doing better than most people in AKB these days, and remember people, idols aren't perfect, they just pretend to be.

And to whoever asked me if I'm that person in the forum, uh, no.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Lets not forget that compulsory education here finishes at 15 years of age, this means that High school is voluntary and the system and teachers control what students wear and do in school as well as after school, this means that many are not permitted to take part-time jobs or have a social life.

These are rules and they do not need a contract to follow the rules, they do it because that is what they want to do, the same as the girls in these idol groups.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Idol otaku are some of the worst otaku. Case in point, this article and people who vehemently defend the idol industry when it's basically a form of modern indentured servitude.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I agree with djv124 that most of the idol obsessives don't even imagine having sex with their idols. Because their eunuchs.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@djv124 thanks for yr reply. You are not the same djv124 who posts on an akb48 forum with similar gusto. Just a coincidence. I was confused. Sorry.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Poor Kashiyuka!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To place restrictive contractual 'fidelity-chastity' ordination clauses, a gross example of avarice, under scored by these miserable Idol management agencies cynically, callous exploitative manipulation to strike Faustian bargains, amounts to a flagrant abuse of human rights.

All Infringing the very basic ability for a young person to develop and appreciate natural, emotional, intellectual, and social milestones, that associate rapid physical changes during that roller coaster ride between puberty and adolescence.

I have accompanied nephews and nieces to 9nine and Dream5 events and witnessed grown middle-aged men divulging in inappropriate behavior commiserate to borderline, emotionally unstable, personality disorders.

How can any society tolerate a fandom's demand that a young persons emotional health and well-being, be contractually restricted by claustrophobic confinement of commercial liability?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why anyone would agree to those conditions is beyond me.

Why doesn't the labor laws apply?

Total xploitation if you ask me!

I don't support these kinds of things too

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"but very few western stars have exploited there bodies"

Sorry I didn't respond earlier, but I was too busy watching racy videos of all the Kardashians, Pamela Anderson and Miley Cyrus.

I don't have a clue how you can make that claim, as it is actually considered exceptional when a Hollywood starlet doesn't exploit her body these days. But I wasn't even talking about them. I was talking about the more sordid stuff behind closed doors that isn't talked about publicly. That stuff is rampant in Hollywood, or anywhere there is an entertainment industry. It only becomes public on rare occasions like the recent exposure of Bill Cosby. But he is just one of many.

Sure, the AKB kids don't have a normal teenage life. Neither do teenage gold medalists at the Olympics, ballerinas, models, teenage TV stars, or any other kid who has chosen to take that route to success. The competitive drive needed to get to the top doesn't allow for a normal life on the side. I wouldn't recommend it for most kids, but there will always be plenty who can't be dissuaded from that route.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Total Mind control, monetary control and entertainment pimping

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't have a clue how you can make that claim, as it is actually considered exceptional when a Hollywood starlet doesn't exploit her body these days.

Google any Hollywood starlet, now google any Japanese "talento". Compare which one has more gravure-bikini pictures.

I do not think your claim is accurate. Sure, you can claim house hold names like the Kardashians..but that's what? A handful of people or so. In Japan, posing half naked is almost a right of passage into the entertainment business for girls.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Poor little innocent idols! Uuh, right.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There are two accepted methods for thwarting the no dating rule; 1) become so popular that the company decides they would rather not cut loose their money maker, and 2) date one of the company executives.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@MoonrakerOCT. 21, 2015 - 07:43AM JST How many of these are tried and tested tactics from Takarazuka, where manipulating and restricting women has been going on for a century?

''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Takarazuka was known lesbians girls opera theater.

Kabuki was considered gay actors drama.

That was fine. boys middle school were training for gay. girls middle schols were to create lesbians So Gen Mac guided Japan to be coed. And public Univ accepted one girl in 1946, Only a girl who did not e]walk like a girl.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@toshiko

How many of these are tried and tested tactics from Takarazuka, where manipulating and restricting women has been going on for a century?

It does not seem unreasonable for an entertainment company to safeguard the underage girls under their charge. For those who are above the age of consent they have a choice to pursue their careers as idols for companies that require the dating ban or for an agency that does not. I would assume that these ladies are capable of making decisions in their own best interests.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Wolfpack" Whar you wrote was a question by moonllaker. I gave my answer bottom/ It you know Japanese entertainment culure, write to moontaker.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think the no dating policy is a bit extreme and I'm not a big fan of the music,...make that a fan of any size. But, comparing their lives to slavery is a bit over the top. These young women/girls can walk away, even with the contract etc. They stay for the money and fame. That's a choice they make. How bad their life is, is nothing next to someone who has no choice. These young ladies are elite entertainment stars, their lives are always and the lives of the other celebrities are all faked for our consumption. That's the job in this lifestyle. Again, they are making lots of money and if they want they can stop making the money and turn their back on the fame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@toshiko

Whar you wrote was a question by moonllaker. I gave my answer bottom/ It you know Japanese entertainment culure, write to moontaker.

My mistake - I am sorry about the misattribution.

@moonracker:

How many of these are tried and tested tactics from Takarazuka, where manipulating and restricting women has been going on for a century?

Don't the girls and young women have a choice? They do not have to work for companies or talent agencies with policies they do not agree with. Women have many more choices now than they had a century ago. And it is not as if the entertainers are not getting anything out of the bargain for themselves. The idol groups go through a great many potential employees who decide that they do not want that lifestyle. They do not seem to have any problem making choices for themselves.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Corporate Japan has always been too involved in employees lives (sacrificing leisure time and having to mover away from family etc.) but this has got to be pushing the boundaries of human rights too far.

No human right was violated unless you think the girls are unable to quit. As far as I know, any of these girls can quit if they feel their terms of employment are too onerous. Even if she signed an exclusive contract with a talent agency, that contract would only apply to the girl working with another talent agency. The girl is free to go do something else that doesn't try to control her personal life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am a fan of Japanese Idols but this is too much.. Let the girls have their own free/private time.. The girls average from 10-20 years old and still this "entertainment" managements are deriving them of their right to live. They dream to become an idol, not some slave of a "producer".. Being an Idol is work, and it has rules. But invading their private life is a different thing.. They are just milking money from this girls at the expense of their youth, which is one of the most important point of our lives..

Also I hate those "Fans" who are so possessive about their idols. Like if a news/rumor about their idol having a boyfriend. They go all-out crazy, to the point that they call the girls names, bad mouthing them, etc. These are not fans, they are just sexually aroused perverts wanting to see their idols in bikinis, lingerie, half-nude, etc, which they're using to milk more money from this girls.

First off all, this idols are entertainers, just like actors/actress'. They are there to entertain you with their song/dance/acting and not your entertain you sexually. At the end of the day, they are still young girls who are wondering about the world they live at and sometimes feel something romantic about someone in the opposite sex. If they happen to have a boyfriend, just be happy for them that they got a life beyond idoling and just support them in their endeavors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That is the problem. You can't help but face it, but i agree with you. This is reality with how the so called 'fans' are. These entertainment companies can't risk having losses by allowing them to date whoever they want. Idols cannot be attached to a particular guy..this is also a business strategy. Ppl (of the opposite sex) will like a person more and spend more money when they know the idol is single. They can have dreams and imagine “what if she was mine” as much as they one without being destructed by the reality.

Personally, it is a kind of ostensibld reles. The hidden rule would be “you can have a boyfriend but dont let anyone know”.

But those idols with a high professionalism follow the every single rules until they quit the field.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is 2018 now. If someone still thinks these girls (who joined these idol groups with their free will, and are able to quit the groups any time given a short notice period, says 3 months) are manipulated, and then shout at these Japanese people just to relieve some stresses from their own lifes, I can suggest a better way;

There are nudism groups in many countries, with members probably far more than the sum of these Japanese or Korean idol groups. You could tell yourself these people (and maybe also their younger and older family members) are forced by guns to take off their clothes completely in public, stay naked for long hours with people they barely know, get pictured, and not allowed to quit these groups. (Well, in most cases not really public, but outdoor anyway.) These groups should be closer to your places, please go to protest at their events, dial 911 or shxxt them directly.

These idol groups are not the only kind of performance groups in Japan. There are choices for these members and fans. (Although honestly the revenues of these other groups are usually lower, and the auditions/competitions are usually much tougher.)

After all, if these girls TRUELY think it is a fair choice to take a few years break from love life (maybe also school life) in exchange for a chance to perform in a small theater in Akihabara / a large concert hall / a stadium like Tokyo Dome, or sing and dance on a prime time TV show, or to be cover girls on magazines, or as small as to go viral on twitter, is it really that BAD?

Please, remember HAPPINESS in other countries does not always means the same set of things as your home country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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