Earlier this year, the entertainment world was shocked when comedian Ken Watabe was caught in an extramarital affair.
But what made this scandal extra-juicy to the media was that he had multiple illicit rendezvous with different women, and exclusively inside multipurpose bathrooms. These kinds of restrooms are found all over public places in Japan like government buildings and shopping centers. They are genderless, intended for individual use, and provide a bevy of added functions as well as ample space to cater to all types of differently abled people.
In Japan they are called tamokuteki toilet or “multipurpose" toilets as here the more direct nomenclature is preferred to euphemistic terms like “restroom” or “bathroom.” For parents of small children too these places can be a godsend, which also makes what Watabe did just that much more vomit-inducing.
According to reports, after hitting it off with various women he met on separate occasions while out and about, rather than one of Japan’s many discreet love hotels, or even a regular hotel, he would arrange to meet them in a multipurpose toilet in various Tokyo locations.
There he would proceed to get it on with them, often abusing the restroom’s handy shower faucet features to clean up after. He allegedly would also slip them a 10,000-yen bill afterward – an odd move that’s equal parts considerate and insulting.
These “multipurpose toilet affairs,” as they were dubbed by the media, came to light in early June when the tabloid Weekly Bunshun ran an exposé. A few days later Watabe issued an apology through his agency and said he would take a break from show business.
For the past six months he remained quiet, likely mending ties with his wife with whom he has a two-year-old son, as well as his partner in the comedy duo Unjash, Kazuya Kojima, whose career he had also dragged down considerably.
Then, out of the blue, Watabe re-emerged on Dec 3 for his obligatory apology press conference. This is where the subject of a scandal is unceremoniously paraded in front of reporters and is expected to shed tears while giving a lengthy, polite mea culpa. Their bow is also also timed and measured for depth to ensure sincerity.
▼ The full press conference
After a bow that hit the 90 degree mark and lasted a good ten seconds, Watabe fielded questions from reporters which could be paraphrased as essentially “How dare you?” and “Just who do you think you are?” The highlight question was “How will you use multipurpose toilets from here on out?” to which he replied, “I think I don’t deserve to use one.”
Whether the apology was successful ultimately relies of the response from the public, so let’s see what they had to say:
“I wish they let Kojima be one of the reporters.”
“I wanted to hear if he regretted tarnishing the reputation of multipurpose toilets. Why did no reporter ask this?”
“Why is he doing this now?”
“That was terrible. He thinks he can just say sorry and pretend like nothing happened?”
“Does anyone really want to see this piece of garbage on TV anymore?”
“Time to find a new line of work.”
“The image of him as a toilet adulterer has taken root. It will be hard to see him on TV and not think about that.”
“He said he already apologized to his family and co-workers. Who is he apologizing to now?”
“He seems very immature.”
Not a great response overall, but the reason for spite likely stems from the timing of this apology. On Nov 22, Hitoshi Matsumoto confirmed that Watabe would be staging his television comeback on comedy group Downtown’s annual New Year’s holiday marathon of "Gaki no Tsukai," a comedy show well known overseas for its segments where the cast try not to laugh.
The nearness of this press conference to the air-date of his return rubbed some the wrong way and suggested it was either a coldly calculated career move or possibly even done against his will at the behest of the show producers.
Regardless, Watabe made his public toilet and now he has to lie in it. Affairs are one thing, but bringing a term like “multipurpose toilet affair” into the national lexicon is an especially deep hole to dig oneself out of.
Source: Oricon News, Hachima Kiko
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