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AKB48 said to be phasing out swimsuit modeling for younger teen members

23 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The common snarky comment about Japanese idol singers is that their musical talents aren’t nearly strong enough to justify their fanbases, but it is true that the most successful idols have a media presence that goes far beyond just singing and dancing. Variety show appearances, commercial endorsements, TV and movie acting gigs, and magazine photo shoots are all part of the cycle of idol fame and pop culture presence, as the longer they stay in the spotlight, the more likely they are to get other such offers, making the system at least in part self-perpetuating.

A quick and easy way to get eyeballs on idols is to do a gravure modeling session, with one or more of the group’s members dressed in bikinis and frolicking on the beach, and run the photos in one of Japan’s many manga anthologies or men’s interest magazines. But according to Japanese website Nikkan Cyzo, AKB48, Japan’s most successful and influential idol unit ever, is planning to phase out swimsuit gravure photos for its younger members.

According to one of Nikkan Cyzo’s sources, an anonymous member of the Japanese publishing industry, notices have been circulating from AKB48’s management team saying that from now on, members of the group who are high school-age or younger will not pose for swimwear gravure photos. “Even if there’s a situation that calls for all of the members to wear swimsuits,” the source states, “Members who are high school-age or younger will wear suits that are modest and reveal a minimum of skin.”

AKB48’s frequently rotating roster of members and numerous sub-groups makes it hard to speak in absolute statistical terms, but as of this moment, the members of the group’s three primary teams (Teams A, K, and B) range in age from 14 to 26. Out of those, 13 are 18 years old or younger, three are 19 (still under Japan’s age of legal adulthood, 20), and the remaining 21 vocalists are 20 or older.

Another source quoted by Nikka Cyzo, also a member of the publishing industry, cites AKB48’s growing international fame as a reason for the alleged change in policy. “AKB48 is becoming more well-known overseas, and that’s bringing attention to their media activities. If they have members younger than 18 posing in skimpy bathing suits, there’s a chance they’ll be labeled as engaging in child pornography. The upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics are probably also a factor,” the source said, likely thinking of the persistent speculation that AKB48 will somehow be involved in the Games’ opening ceremony or other official festivities.

AKB48 itself, however, is yet to make any official statement regarding the rumor, nor have any other prominent idol groups publicly pledged to limit their gravure activities.

Sources: Nikkan Cyzo via Rakuten Infoseek News via Yaraon via Anime News Network/Jennifer Sherman

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- AKB48 founder plans Japan48 idol group for Olympics, Phillipines spinoff

-- AKB48 and South Korean idol groups perform hits at music awards, turns out to be a disaster

-- Cosplayers, idols, waitresses and bikini models dress up to celebrate Maid’s Day in Japan【Pics】

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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the persistent speculation that AKB48 will somehow be involved in the Games’ opening ceremony or other official festivities.

AKB48, the best of what Japan has to offer to the world. #Facepalm

14 ( +19 / -5 )

Even though I’m not a fan of the whole idol culture and everything that goes with it, I have to say that this member made a great choice.

12-17 years old half-nude pictures have nothing to do in sexy magazines, period.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

AKB48, the best of what Japan has to offer to the world.

I don't think so. Shonen Knife is 3 lady punk rock band from Osaka. They rock hard, they're great!!!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The hoards of local paedos will be distraught.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

AKB48 said to be phasing out 

AKB48 itself, however, is yet to make any official statement

Because when it comes to the sexual exploitation of minors, you don't want to make and quick or decisive moves, do you?

Another source quoted by Nikka Cyzo, also a member of the publishing industry, cites AKB48’s growing international fame as a reason for the alleged change in policy. “AKB48 is becoming more well-known overseas, and that’s bringing attention to their media activities. If they have members younger than 18 posing in skimpy bathing suits, there’s a chance they’ll be labeled as engaging in child pornography. The upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics are probably also a factor,”

Ah, there it is. The problem isn't sexually exploiting minors. It's people in other countries seeing you sexually exploiting minors. That's where you draw the line.

19 ( +22 / -3 )

@katsu78 This!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Excellent comment from katsu78 today.

The music and media industry feed off each other and their often rank hypocrisy never fails to amaze.

As for the music? Not my cup of tea. But good luck to them. I'd rather listen to Cibo Matto or Shonen Knife.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I think this is a good trend, but young girls in bathing suits is not pornography or sexual exploitation. Go to any beach in the summer and you see as much as you want. The real issue is Japan is more open about nudity than the West.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

There's a very gray line between the entertainment business and porn here in Japan. Sometimes those worlds even cross over into each other. I feel sorry for any young women who entered into that world not knowing how they would be exploited.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

"Go to any beach in the summer and you see as much as you want."

In many SE European countries you can see young children in swimsuits on the beach. You can even see infants without clothes at all, without swimsuits, on th beach. In Japan, you can "see as much as you want" in an onsen and sento, where young and old wear their birthday suits. But, eroticizing the body in a gravure style publication is a completely different issue--buyers expect to be tantalized.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

So again, like everything else, Japan is doing this so so not to be ashamed...Not because it’s the obviously moral thing to do.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

They used 'AKB48' and 'vocalists' in the same paragraph. That's hilarious.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I can see why they are doing this now.

The -48 franchise now has international bases.

Shanghai (SNH48), Bangkok (BNK48), Jakarta (JKT48) and Manila (MNL48)

Is the AKB48 really decoupling from otaku fans who supported them since the beginning with this no-swimsuit rule and in attempt to branch out outside of Japan?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Too bad! I like me some JK and JC swimsuit shots!!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Hmmmm....  I don't know that pictures of younger women in swimsuits is "porn".  Being used commercially certainly a bit tasteless and not my thing.  Given aKB and others have their "artists" wear all sorts of other pretty provocative outfits, seems to me that this is a pretty pointless move.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So again, like everything else, Japan is doing this so so not to be ashamed...Not because it’s the obviously moral thing to do.

"Japan" is not doing this. For that matter, it's not even known if it will be done - it's simply reporting some people's comments, it's nothing that's official.

So it's weird that you would determine that they were doing this for any reason, much less the negative one you put forward, and attributed to the wrong group.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Go to any beach in the summer and you see as much as you want. lol yet nobody is making money off beach-goers in swimsuits.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Kidas DomToday  

11:23 am JST

Too bad! I like me some JK and JC swimsuit shots!!

Lets compare to how it was like circa 2005... JS!

https://thisistrue.com/saayairie/ 

Japan sure has slid backwards

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Weather if you like AKB48 or not at least the management are trying to tone down there sexy, provocative image of the girls. there has been comment about girls with or with out swimsuits on beeches, thats correct, but there not trying so sell records thats the difference.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My niece watched this band on YouTube just last night I was so uncomfortable young girls in under wear kissing each other, remember I'm sitting with an 8 yo a 6yo and 2 female adults now I'm no prude but I felt that the imagery was crossing a line that should involve ducking into a DVD store. And that's aside from the obvious underage sexual exploitation. I love you, I need you, not so much. Get an education and life skills that last more then your teenage looks. Might actually make them an interesting person.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Dang. Now what am I going to buy?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Cricky: Ummmm could have turned it off.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"If they have members younger than 18 posing in skimpy bathing suits, there’s a chance they’ll be labeled as engaging in child pornography. "

Do they know what porn is? Nudity (the mere absence of clothes) is not necessarily porn unless posed in a sxual manner. Otherwise romantic era art with cupids would have to be destroyed, for example. As swimsuits cover nudity, they are 2 steps away from being porn. That being said, where are the protections for the adult members who are uncomfortable in revealing swimsuits?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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