entertainment

Belgian politician lobbying AKB48 producers for concert

31 Comments
By KK Miller

The most famous idol group in Japan, AKB48, has a lot of fans all over the world. Not only do they perform to sold-out venues within Japan, but they have also held packed concerts in the U.S. and other parts of Asia.

Jean-Francois Istasse is a French-speaking Belgian politician and an honorary senator who has also done a lot of work in the European Union. In 2012, he was hospitalized due to illness, but his recovery was apparently helped along thanks to AKB48. Istasse found their music to be reminiscent of French pop music from the ’60s and ’70s and, while the melodies are upbeat and carefree, the songs’ themes are often much deeper than their music might lead us to believe.

The Belgian politician found optimism in their lyrics and really connected with the idea that there is always a way that things can get better, even when approaching such delicate subjects such as homosexuality, unemployment and even suicide. That optimistic outlook is what Jean-Francois hopes to bring to Belgium – something he feels his country is currently lacking.

Istasse is so passionate about AKB48 performing in his home country that he went so far as to make the appeal in person. He traveled to the AKB48 Cafe & Shop Akihabara, Tokyo, and arranged to meet with the producers of the idol group in order to persuade them to allow the girls to play a concert in Belgium. While they weren’t wild about the idea before they met, Istasse was able to talk the producers into considering getting the girls onto a flight to Belgium.

The first AKB48 concert in Belgium isn’t a done deal yet, but if all it takes is an enthusiastic politician to bring the idol group to your country, then it’s time to start writing letters to your senator. Here’s hoping that Jean-Francois can convince other Japanese groups to go to Belgium, it seems he already has his eyes on his next target: BABYMETAL.

Source: NariNari

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Japan’s newest idol group, KBG84, hails from Okinawa, has an average age of 84 -- New AKB48 Cafe & Shop Fun Experience For Fans and Non-Fans Alike -- This new convenience store isn’t so convenient for the blind…

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31 Comments
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That picture looks a bit creepy to me...just sayin...

10 ( +13 / -3 )

You have got to be kidding me?!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Once again, wonderfully incorrect reporting by Japan Today. AKB48 has been to France and played there back in 2009. So unless I'm wrong to think that France isn't part of Europe, AKB48 playing in Belgium would not be their first concert in Europe. Personally, I hope this happens, and I'm happy to see that AKB has helped touch the life of one more person in the world.

Moderator: The story has been amended.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

What? Akb has never been to Europe? After all these years? Thought these clowns were washed-up by now now. Good grief-

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

He is very welcome to them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Once again, wonderfully incorrect reporting by Japan Today. AKB48 has been to France and played there back in 2009."

Wow, you must be big fan of AKB48 to know that.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japan's worst export.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I've already given up on the 2020 Olympics as there's little doubt Akimoto has a vested interest on the committee by introducing a version of AKB48 as the 'entertainment' (read: torture) for either the opening or closing ceremonies...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wouldn't be the JT comments section without some hatred of AKB in it.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Lolicom paradise overflow, like the picture, like the froth from a glass of Stella

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The need to hate AKB is really pathetic and over-wrought. Can't people just be neutral in their disinterest? Nobody is forcing anyone to consume anything AKB. And no, the way late teen and early twenties women dress and act is not promoting any sort of social ill and really, you can find women of that age group performing similarly since the 1920s if not earlier. So just get over it already.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

And i thought Austin Powers was a comedy :P

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Belgian politician found optimism in their lyrics and really connected with the idea that there is always a way that things can get better, even when approaching such delicate subjects such as homosexuality, unemployment and even suicide.

AKB being spoken about with unemployment, homosexuality and suicide, a first no doubt.

And here all along I thought people were tempted to commit suicide after listening to them, not prevention.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thank you Japan Today for correcting the mistake about this being the first time AKB has been in Europe. That's very cool of you to do.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

the way late teen and early twenties women dress and act is not promoting any sort of social ill and reall

Many of the members are under 18, including one 13 year old. That is the issue.

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

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Many of the members are under 18, including one 13 year old. That is the issue.

Is it? Why? Can you rent them for the evening?

Are all other performers in the world over 18?

I suggest the issue is somewhere between the ears of certain people who are looking very hard to invent and then find problems to bellyache about.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

THE PRINCIPLE: I completely agree with you that people make waaaay too much of a huge deal about the members being young, though on average, the age ranges are between 17-22, actually, when you do an average age count of the current members. There are some super young ones, but they aren't the majority, and again, even if AKB was full of 11 year old girls, SO WHAT? Right? i mean, as long as you are watching AKB to enjoy their music and get into the whole idol spirit, then I don't see the issue at all with them being young. You have to be kind of in a biased and sick state of mind to even suggest something like that about their fans, and being a fan for years, and having been to many shows and handshake events, I can tell you that AKB's fanbase includes old and young guys, old and young girls, children, and entire families. I've seen them all at the events. It's really a beautiful sub-culture that gets unfairly treated due to bad reports like this one that got the facts wrong about Belgium being the first time they would've been in Europe (though Japan Today corrected the mistake, so I'm proud of Japan Today for admitting they were incorrect), the ages of the girls which really gets underneath people's skin (as though it is the worst thing in the world to watch teenage girls sing and dance. Hello, um, American Idol?), and worst of all, AKB gets portrayed as this big exploitation farmhouse full of girls who are nothing more than slaves to Japan's unfair work contracts. Uh Huh. And that's why so many of these girls are beyond famous and go on from AKB to live very happy, healthy, and productive lives. Even the ones who enter into AV (which has only been 5 so far, out of over 240 plus girls) end up making more money than most grown, college educated women. So really, when I see people make the same tired comments here on Japan Today about AKB, it's important to also provide a counter-perspective and try to help people understand that if AKB can touch the life of this guy in Belgium, then that's saying something way more positive about them than anything negative can ever be said about them.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Wow, you must be big fan of AKB48 to know that. oh you have no idea what some of these crazed AKB48 fans know about this group. its actually a little disturbing sometimes!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Thank you djv124. I agree with most of what you wrote. However, the contracts are exploitative, no matter what some of them may gain after.

These girls are not even allowed to have boyfriends in the own, private life. As far as I am concerned, that is the single most disturbing thing about AKB and the Japanese entertainment industry in general. Its a human rights violation and I would like to see people arrested for it.

On the other hand, I think these people who are so anxious about teenage girls dancing are secretly cheering that they cannot even have a normal human relationship with some "nasty" male their own age even.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Principle

These girls are not even allowed to have boyfriends in the own, private life. As far as I am concerned, that is the single most disturbing thing about AKB and the Japanese entertainment industry in general. Its a human rights violation and I would like to see people arrested for it.

C'mon, you really think this is how they operate? It's a carefully moulded & curated image created by their management, so as to keep the creepy fans 'holding out hope'. Johnny's does exactly the same thing. Par for the course in the industry here. It's really a sad reflection on the more unspoken parts of modern Japanese culture... The number of single women I've met who actually believe they have a chance at marrying a member is scary.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

THE Principle: We'll have to agree to disagree on the exploitation part. I personally know an AKB member who has been doing AKB for many years now. She really loves the fact that their is a love ban rule, as it allows her to focus on the good of the group. That's what is wrong about people who look at AKB and see something like the love ban rule and think it's exploitational. It's simply a Japanese cultural expression about things being good for the group, not for the individual, and helping create the perfect idol image for all these girls. You can't very well call a member of an idol group "perfect" or "innocent" when you see them out in public making out with their boyfriends, can you? And that's just it... every wota knows it's all a fantasy, that these girls DO have boyfriends in their private lives. Many of them do, in fact. But it's just the idea that they are supposed to be promoting the idol persona and part of that persona includes being unavailable to ALL men and women. Hence, the term "idol." At the same time, the love ban rule is just a rule. It's not part of their contract. That is where many people get mistaken about AKB. And also, even if it were part of the contract, this is no different than when you work a job and are told you can't date the people at your workplace, or you can't smoke in the workplace. Those could also be considered human rights violations as well, by your logic. Or when you are in the military, while you are going through basic training, you are not allowed to leave the base to go see your girlfriend and have fun with her. You are obliged to stay on base and complete your training for all those months and avoid having all sexual relations during this time.... again, how is this any different than what AKB does? Yet when you agree to be part of something, you agree to all of it, and trust me, 90% of the girls who are in AKB want what's best for AKB, not for themselves, and that's why the only people who seem to have a problem with the love ban rule are people who aren't in AKB.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Is it? Why? Can you rent them for the evening? Are all other performers in the world over 18?

No, but they are marketing to kids their own age, AKB48 are marketed to older men.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Maybe we can get French fries with mayonnaise in return. good on the girls if they make it to Belgium - they will go down a storm there. maybe they could do a benefit gig Greece too to support the migrants.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@gogogo: Your statement is 100% untrue. AKB is marketed to JAPAN, which is why I think so many people just will never understand who the real demographic is for AKB. I've been to so many events and seen mostly YOUNG men and YOUNG girls enjoying AKB. There are a few ojisans, sure, but that's not entirely unusual in Japan. However, it's mostly youth that love AKB and support them and buy all their singles and albums and dvds. If you don't believe me, simply go to their next handshake event. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about. This Belgium guy is a rare exception, trust me, and personally I'm happy his life was touched by AKB at his age. That's a wonderful thing to see an artistic expression like a sub-cultural idol group such as AKB transcend international boundaries to reach him and affect him like that.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Even the ones who enter into AV (which has only been 5 so far, out of over 240 plus girls)

Is this true? I've read alot of people joking about this but I didn't realise it was actually happening. Not the best role models for young girls, even when not doing AV.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@M3M3M3: It's true. Look it up on Google if you don't believe me. However, it's not that big of a deal in Japan, honestly. There have been plenty of famous actresses in Japan who go the AV route, and it's not looked down on like Americans and other people look down on girls who decide to go into the adult entertainment industry. Japan is kind of progressive sometimes in their way of thinking when it comes to sexuality. I mean, look at the fact that Japan regularly has had transgenders on their variety shows, completely accepted and not used as the butt of jokes because they were transgender, and in America, it's only now becoming something of an accepted thing to see on television and in movies. AKB has no control over what girls do when they leave AKB, so it's unfair to even bring AKB into a conversation about AV, especially when the five girls who left AKB to go into that world were pretty much unknowns in AKB. None of them were that famous or even in AKB long enough to even be considered a "role model" for anyone who likes AKB. The only exception might be the SKE girl who recently went into AV, but even she was a kind of no name girl who many didn't know or even care about like some of the other major girls in SKE. If you want to talk about AKB members, both past and present, being role models, look at their efforts to continuously help the victims of the Tsunami, or how graduated member Maeda Atsuko donated 1.25 million yen for charity to Green Cross International. I suppose it's easy to forget that AKB members do good things too, occasionally.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No, but they are marketing to kids their own age, AKB48 are marketed to older men.

I don't think that is true, but even if it was, it would not matter. Throughout the centuries, no man needed AKB to like what they like. And you cannot thought police them away from their fantasies and nor should you try. Fantasies is the reason why Japanese are so inept with real females. That would be the the outcome I should think someone of your "persuasion" would strongly desire I should think, because your fantasy of wiping the male mind "clean" is not going to happen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@gogogo

"No, but they are marketing to kids their own age,"

100% wrong. There are plenty of old guys who watch young girls perform, anywhere in the world. You are seriously blind and deaf if you actually think only Japanese old men like young girls.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Hide Suzuki: You have your opinion I have mine.

The problem isn't the group, it is the culture where young girls are seen as cute and dressed that way. The only time really anyone over 18 would be at a "young girls" group concert would be in the capacity as a father with their daughter.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Music made by a middle age guy using young girls in a creepy way. It's a sad reflection of some kind of dysfunction.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Plenty of pedoes in Belgium waiting to buy their tickets....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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