Warning: This article has mentions of triggering topics that might be uncomfortable for some. Please read at your own discretion.
It is a universal understanding that there are certain things in life that don’t come for free. It is surprising that even the smallest and simplest thing entails an outcome that no one ever saw coming. The same goes for dreaming to enter the entertainment industry. One moment, it could be a teenager’s mindless ambition, daydreaming to become a star, to be famous, to be everybody’s favorite darling, and to live the celebrity life. Being able to stand on stage, to dance, to sing, and to act to the heart’s content is a precious dream for someone but the entertainment industry is not all glitz and glam. And that once shining and shimmering dream dwindles down to a nightmare.
The price to this dream is to be owned by the management and the fans, one wrong thing out of the contract, and it’s off to the basement or worst, left to fend off for oneself. While some idols manage to come back stronger than ever, some are just left off to depression and what was once has been. And the JPop industry is not any different.
We have tackled the most scandalous issues to grace the KPop industry, and in no particular order, now it’s time to seek the scandals that rain on the JPop scene. If you are interested, then keep on reading!
1. Assault of Maho Yamaguchi
On January 8, 2019, NGT48 subgroups’ co-captain Maho Yamaguchi came forward during her Showroom live stream and Twitter that back on December 8, 2018, as she was about to enter her apartment, two men came and assaulted and rough her up. She said that they grabbed her face and tried to pin her to the ground. The good thing was a resident was passing by and so happens to stop the incident from escalating to a worst-case scenario.
The harassers were identified as 25-year-old college students, was taken by the police but was released after 20 days without prosecution. They thoroughly denied the claims saying that “they only wanted to talk.”
Maho Yamaguchi was said to have bought the issue to her management but a month later, no action was taken, rendering the idol to take matters into her own hand by exposing the story to her live stream, afraid that the same thing might happen to the other girls. After the stream was cut abruptly, Yamaguchi took to Twitter and posted since-deleted tweets, recalling the incident and implying that the other NGT48 members were responsible for leaking her personal information, address and even the time she’d be back home to the harassers.
The most absurd thing happened two days later on January 10, during the group’s third-anniversary theater show. Yamaguchi publicly apologized for “causing trouble” by speaking out about her situation. Her apology garnered an uproar and a petition calling for the resignation of NGT48 director Etsuro Imamura received over 53,000 signatures.
By January 14, AKS confirmed that indeed the personal information came from a NGT48 member after being accosted by the harassers. The very same day, Etsuro Imamura was replaced by Maiko Hayakawa with AKS explaining that a woman as a director would understand the members better.
2. Minami Minegishi’s Apology Video
Rather than the attention being on the scandal, what took the Japanese (even international) media by storm was Minami Minegishi’s apology video. It all started when the said idol was photographed by a tabloid newspaper of her leaving her boyfriend’s, Alan Shirahama, a dancer in a boy band, apartment, indicating that she had spent the night with him. Now in normal situations, what’s wrong with a couple spending one night together? Well, in the case of AKB48 member Minegishi, she has broken the group’s cardinal rule: No dating allowed.
Hours after the article was published, Minegishi took to the camera and posted an apology video on the group’s official website. What surprised everyone the most was that she appeared on screen with her long hair shaved off. In Japanese tradition, shaving off the hair shows contrition. She was profusely apologizing for her “thoughtless and immature actions” and that she doesn’t want to quit AKB48.
It was then announced by AKB48 management that she was demoted to being a trainee as a punishment “for causing a nuisance to the fans.”
Her apology opened up the realization of the harsh environment these JPop idols are facing and of the growing gender problems and issues in Japan.
3. AV Actress AYA and JE Boys
It was a tragic incident when Aya Makinoda, an adult-video actress took her own life on October 25, 2010. And a month later, a weekly gossip magazine released an article pertaining to the sexual activities and relations of various Johnny Entertainment Boys which was revealed by Aya herself.
According to the report, Aya spoke of her big sister relationship with the Johnny Entertainment Boys and that she dated a TOKIO’s Nagase Tomoya after her debut as a L☆IS in 1996. During the interview, she also revealed private photos she took with them sometime 10 years ago.
However, the most surprising and the biggest news of all is that she openly confessed that she slept with 4 out of 5 members of the famous group Arashi. Before this was released, she was already dubbed by other tabloids as a “Johnny’s Eater”, pertaining to her relationship, friendly as they seem or not, with JE Boys. The gossip magazine then concluded that the management has forbidden the boys to have any more contact and communication with her.
4. TOKIO’s Tatsuya Yamaguchi kisses schoolgirl
In the rise of the #MeToo movement, several women, young and adult, have come forward to speak against the sexual harassment and abuse they’ve encountered with prominent male figures. This caused an international uproar as the movement had made mention of famous and well-known names in the entertainment industry.
One of them is TOKIO’s Tatsuya Yamaguchi, a 46-year-old male, admitted to the charges that he bought a high school girl home and forcibly kissed her. His case is one of the most top #MeToo case in Japan.
He tearfully apologized for his actions, and acknowledge that “no apology is enough.” He also told the reporters that, “She probably could not decline the invitation to come over to my place, and to a minor, a male adult was probably intimidating to deal with. An adult should be fulfilling the responsibility of a guardian, but I invited her and caused harm."
A statement from his agency revealed that at the time the incident occurred, Yamaguchi has been drinking and has kissed the victim without thinking of how she will feel.
It was obvious that he has regretted his actions and he made it all clear by withdrawing from his current projects and eventually quitting the band.
5. Ai Kago’s Series of Unfortunate Events
Ai Kago was put into the limelight of the entertainment industry at a very tender age when she passed the National Audition for the popular female music group Morning Musume. It didn’ take long for Ai Kago to succeed with her newfound fame and has projects lined up for her.
However, a series of unfortunate events in Ai Kago’s life begins in the year of 2006. In February 2006, the Japanese magazine Friday released photos of 18-year-old Ai smoking cigarettes. The legal smoking age for Japan is 20 years old and because of this controversy, she was suspended for a while and lowkey lived in her family home in Nara, where she spent most of her time and day isolated from others. She was interviewed by the very same magazine Friday and Ai Kago stated that she had gone through several changes in her life and has matured since then.
All is good news, as we’d all like to think but one year later, in March 2007, she was once again put into a negative light when she was seen dating an older man, aged 37 years old, and once again, caught smoking. Up Front Agency, the agency that manages Ai Kago has had enough and decided to terminate her contract. In the statement revealed, Ai Kago once went to Los Angeles for three months with the said boyfriend and has once attempted to cut her wrist.
One thing led to another and by 2009, she was once again involved in an issue that would severely damage her reputation. She was involved in a romantic affair with actor 33-year old Hidejiro Mizumoto and was said to be the very reason for his divorce with his wife.
In September 2011, she was found on the floor of her apartment, struggling for life, because she has attempted suicide. This is primarily due to her depression and was supplemented with her then-boyfriend being involved in an organized crime group and was also alleged to extorting money.
Another series of events took place between the years 2015 to 2017. She was a victim of domestic violence and Kago was reported to have suffered injuries to her neck, shoulders, and knees. Her husband was arrested in October 2014 for charging an illegal interest rate on a loan. However, he was not prosecuted. When the divorced push through and she remarried, she also revealed that she would be continuing on her part of being a singer. By February 2017, she gave birth to a son named Yoshitsugu.
6. SMAP’s National Apology
Compared to the other issue, this one is not as alarming. But it was a huge hit controversy, mainly because of the group’s popularity. The band members are now in their late 30s and early 40s and have been gracing the stage with their presence for 25 years. They have grown with their fans and have collectively sold over 35 million albums.
When a rumor circulated that the band is breaking up because of internal conflict with their management, their fanbase was thrown into a crazy frenzy and impending heartbreaks are sure to come if the break-up pushes through.
Soon after, they appeared on national television and admitted that yes, they were on a verge of a break-up but has changed their minds since then and they would continue to be a group. They appeared in an all-black suit and ties and deeply bowed and apologize for causing concern to their fans.
You might think it’s not that much but hear this. Their televised apology was watched by 40% of Japan’s televisions viewers, Twitter’s server also crashed because of the overwhelming amount and influx of tweets and they have even managed to draw a comment from the prime minister.
“The group will remain intact in response to many fans’ wishes, which is good,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a session of the Upper House Budget Committee. “As is the case in the world of politics, I presume there are many issues (that must be overcome) for a group to continue for many years.”
7. Momoiro Clover Z’s Blackface Controversy
The current generation is more sensitive and is more enlightened regarding the topics of racism and homophobia. Because of the unlimited access to resources due to the internet, ignorance is not an excuse. This is why when a controversial and sensitive topic is being raised by a popular group, they are surely to be put under fire.
This is what happens when Momoiro Clover Z was shown in a backstage photo from an upcoming Fuji TV show, along with veteran group Rats & Star, sporting blackface. The photo received an outcry and Fuji removed the segment from the weekly music show.
Following the controversy, Momoiro Clover Z has reportedly canceled a number of performances and appearances without further explanation. It is safe to say that they were reflecting on the action on their own while also waiting for the issue to die down.
8. Watanabe Miyuki’s Series of Scandals
Watanabe Miyuki, a member of the group AKB48, has always done well career-wise as she is constantly ranked high in terms of popularity rank. However, she was involved in a scandal that might have ruined her career if it got out of hand but Miyuki emerged from it stronger than ever.
Due to AKB48’s cardinal rule that they are not allowed, deeply prohibited, to date, Miyuki released the very words that made her fans believed in her. She said that she would never do such a thing and she would never betray her fans. But in March 2014, she was photographed leaving the apartment of Ikemen model Fujita Tom, implying that she had stayed the night over at his house. Although there was no photo that shows the two of them together, it was enough to speculate as they were leaving the same house.
Her fans were in shock, feeling utterly betrayed by the very person that said she would never do such a thing. Both the model Fujita Tom and Watanabe Miyuki kept their silence on the issue. Amongst others, she is considered pretty lucky, seeing as she was neither demoted nor kick out of the group.
But this is not the first time this has happened though, Watanabe Miyuki suddenly dropped from the senbatsu lineup of NMB48 2nd single “Oh My God.” It was rumored that she was given a penalty due to her act of privately meeting male fans.
9. Watanabe Mayu’s Leaked Instagram Posts
We’ve all heard of hacked Instagram profiles that didn’t end well. Most of these profiles contain intimate moments of idols, their hobbies, and photos with their loved ones. In a world where their privacy is never respected, the very least they can do is keep a private account to store their memories and for their close family and friends to see.
But it was a shocking revelation when Watanabe Mayu’s, a famous AKB48 member, private Instagram photos were leaked. Photos after photos inciting rude and sexual captions were revealed to the private, breaking the innocent and pure image of Watanabe Mayu.
She was believed to be a very nice and charismatic member so imagine the shock and disappointment of the fans to see her talk trash of her fellow members, Miyawaki Sakura and Kodama Haruka, saying that they are both plastic surgery monsters. She also posted a picture of Miyawaki Sakura, implying that she wants to kill her.
Other disturbing posts also include wanting to do sexual acts with male idols, going as far as to say, “I want to lick Saezuki Runa, but I can’t right now because I have herpes.” along with photos of her wearing a mask and lips with a cold sore.
More photos were released with her getting drunk and releasing her tension by badmouthing and expressing vulgar words to describe her career.
10. Takahashi Minami’s 20th Birthday Party
We honestly couldn’t blame a girl for wanting to celebrate her birthday, furthermore when the birthday is the day she’ll turn legal. Being of legal age allows multiple access to things we’ve only seen adult people can do, and that includes drinking alcohol to your heart’s content.
Takahashi Minami and Minegishi Minami was involved in a scandal of sorts when photos from Takahashi’s 20th birthday resurfaced and was published by a gossip magazine. It would have been no worries of course but the pictures exposed was a bit uncomfortable for most.
Photos include them getting drunk, hugging men, presumed to be staffs, sitting on their laps, and offering drinks were released out into the public. One of the main feature of this supposed scandal was that, at the time of Takahashi’s 20th birthday, Minegishi was only 19 years old. A year short of legal age for drinking in Japan. And while Takahashi can get out unscathed, Minegishi is now under fire.
Another concern for this issue is whether these girls are having sexual relations with their male staff. While that may seem like a possibility, it was never confirmed so it stayed as an assumption that was never proven.