The headline in Taiwan's weekly Mirror magazine (Jing Zhoukan), which claims circulation of several hundred thousand, reads "The 49% infidelity rate for Japanese woman is world's highest."
Asian media has been abuzz with news of an unfolding scandal regarding the breakup of former tennis table star Ai Fukuhara's marriage. Her husband, Taiwanese table tennis star Chiang Hung-chieh, recently filed for divorce in the Kaohsiung District Court.
Practically weaned on the small white sphere, Fukuhara was a ping pong prodigy from age three, and by the tender age of 15 was a member of the Japanese table tennis squad at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The couple married after the 2016 Rio Olympics and held wedding ceremonies in Taiwan and Japan in 2017. They have a daughter born in October 2017 and a son born in April 2019.
According to the English-language Taiwan News, earlier this year, the 32-year-old Fukuhara had been spotted with an unidentified Japanese man eating dinner in Yokohama's Chinatown. Afterward, she was photographed climbing over a railing to dart into the man's car.
The two were later seen checking into a hotel and leaving it together the next day. Fukuhara insists that they had spent the night in separate rooms.
As the rumors of an illicit relationship began flying, Taiwan's media began running stories with headlines reading, "A high percentage of Japanese women commit infidelity, but no matter how rough it is, their husbands tolerate it" (in the China Times, one of the island's four biggest daily newspapers) and "Four reasons why Japanese married women like to play around," (reported on the website of TVBS News).
"Along with Mirror Media, these would be Taiwan's equivalents of Japan's Shukan Post, the Yomiuri Shimbun and Fuji TV," a Taiwanese journalist was quoted as saying.
And these media, needless to say, boast a high degree of credibility.
From the chatter emanating from Taiwan, websites in China -- where Fukuhara is also well known -- have picked up the story with a vengeance.
Some of the contents in China, which first began appearing from the end of March, are believed to have been based on a certain YouTube post.
"In every case, they've been gleaned from a YouTube video posted by a Chinese woman living in Japan and married to a Japanese man," the aforementioned Taiwanese journalist says. "The contents take special pains to cite the 49% infidelity rate as being the world's highest.
"They typically attribute the 49% figure to 'various data on the web,' but actually the sources are vague," he adds. "The explanations range from 'Japanese husbands are too busy with their jobs,' or 'Japanese relationships are open' or 'Both husbands and wives in Japan take infidelity for granted,' and so on."
The YouTube video is enough to convince viewers that in Japan Fukuhara's behavior would be viewed as typical, and that Japanese husbands feign not to know about their wives' illicit behavior.
Shukan Shincho tracked down the Chinese housewife who posted the video on YouTube and asked her on what she based her story.
"I didn't know that media in Taiwan had picked it up," she insisted. "It was certainly not my intention to do anything to damage relations between Japan and Taiwan. I apologize if anyone was hurt by this."
As the total number of viewers was only about 4,000, Shukan Shincho's writer is skeptical of its influence on major media organizations.
Nevertheless the reporting on the breakup between Fukuhara and her Taiwanese hubby continues to spread throughout Asia.
Kin Birei, a native of Taiwan and a well known critic in Japan, remarked, "Well, certainly some Japanese place a low value on fidelity; but to claim nearly half sounds like a made-up figure to me."
Kin doesn't believe Fukuhara owes anyone an apology, but opines, "it's irresponsible for her not to provide an explanation. Not doing so will just keep feeding the rumors."© Japan Today