Arama They Didn't

4:18 pm - 02/13/2012

The idol's mom, the underage boy and the media

The recent arrest of the mother of a Japanese pop idol for sex with a minor raises questions on how the media here handles such high-profile cases.

Usually, if someone who is related to a tarento (TV personality), or other type of celebrity, is arrested in Japan, the shukanshi (weekly gossip magazines) almost always report the names of the celebrities — though major TV news programs and newspapers don't always reveal this information.

Last week, this was the case when Shukan Bunshun reported in its Feb. 16 issue (on sale Thursday) that the 44-year-old mother of Minami Takahashi (20), a leading member of the idol group AKB48, had been arrested on suspicion of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Despite the apparent newsworthiness of the story, however, some major TV news programs and newspapers, including the sports tabloids, opted not to report the incident at all. Meanwhile, Kyodo News, Jiji Press, Sankei Shimbun newspaper and the Nikkei newspaper reported the arrest but simply described the arrested woman as the "mother of an AKB48 member," without specifically mentioning Takahashi.

The Japan Times attempted to confirm the identity of the woman by contacting Minami Takahashi's agency Production Ogi and the Metropolitan Police Department, but at time of publication neither had agreed to reveal that information.

Japanese showbiz commentators have reacted to the issue by raising the question: Why there was such a difference in how the news was treated?

Shukan Bunshun, for its part, was not immediately forthcoming with its reason for revealing the name of the woman's daughter. Meanwhile, other mainstream media claim to have had a legitimate reason for their reticence.

The woman was arrested in mid-January, and by the time the story broke a court had already handed down a ruling of sex with a minor — fining her a mere ¥500,000. Having sex with a minor is considered statutory rape in Japan and can carry a prison term of several years. It has been suggested that the punishment was so light because the boy himself had "aggressively seduced" the woman, and allegedly she reluctantly agreed to have sex with him.

A Kyodo News editor told The Japan Times that the wire news company decided not to identify the daughter by name because it "needed" to protect the privacy of the arrested woman. As far as Kyodo was concerned the incident had already been solved. The woman is no longer a suspect nor a defendant, and the media should not do anything to keep her from moving on with her life, the editor said.

"This is a classic case in which the media should not report a real name," he said.

Other mainstream media outlets that, like Kyodo, identified the pop group but not the daughter are understood to have done so for similar reasons.

The issue here, though, is that media outlets are claiming that their intention was not to respect the privacy of the daughter, Minami Takahashi, but to protect her mother. This is odd, however, as in similar cases in the past, such as when a man or a woman has been arrested for rape or sex with a minor in exchange for money, the accused is almost always named in the media. However, the seriousness of a crime is also believed to be a determining factor in disclosing names of crime suspects.

According to the Shukan Bunshun article, the 15-year-old boy, an acquaintance of the woman's son (Minami Takahashi's brother), told the Metropolitan Police Department about his relationship with the woman during an interrogation for other criminal acts he had allegedly conducted. The boy was being questioned on suspicion of assault, as he had allegedly participated in the beating of another boy in October.

The magazine cited an unnamed source as saying the woman and the boy had had sex several times at a love hotel near her house in Hachioji, western Tokyo.

The police quoted the woman herself as saying, "We did it several times after he repeatedly asked for it," according to Shukan Bunshun, Kyodo News and other media.

Following the Shukan Bunshun article, the topic was picked up on the Internet by bloggers and Twitter users who were quick to point out the lack of media coverage the story was getting. Some even suggested that the advertising revenue generated by AKB48 may have been enough reason to keep sections of the media quiet — AKB48 appears in countless advertisements for many products.

One of those critical of the Japanese mass media's response to the incident is columnist and tarento critic Akio Nakamori — who is also credited with being the first to report on the world of otaku, back in 1983.

"AKB48 fans and young children know from information on the Internet that Minami Takahashi's mother was arrested. But TV news programs and other mass media behave as if the news did not exist. It sends the message that the Japanese mass media is not trustworthy," he said in a tweet on Wednesday night.

"I would understand if the media refrained from reporting all the scandals of celebrities' relatives, lovers and other noncelebrity people. But the current media refrain from reporting such cases involving [celebrities belonging to the talent agency] Johnny's and AKB, and bash all other celebrities."

Nakamori may have a point. Is it a coincidence that the woman's identity was kept hidden or was it the mass media's self-censorship in consideration of AKB48's popularity?

Taiwan news

japantimes, youtube
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(no subject) - Anonymous
koichiko 13th-Feb-2012 08:55 am (UTC)
Hm, I don't know. This doesn't sound like a classical case of child molestation to me.
nyxera 13th-Feb-2012 08:57 am (UTC)
Okay, I gotta know. What IS the legal age of consent in Japan anyway? I've heard 13/14 for some reason on wikipedia [for boys only?], and yet 15 is considered rape? I'm sooooo confused.

Just need a legit number for curiousity's sake.
koichiko 13th-Feb-2012 09:04 am (UTC)
Well, if she was arrested for stagetory rape, doesn't that mean it would have to be 16 or 18?
Because even though apparently he persued her and it could be said to have been consentual sex, she was arrested.
benihime99 13th-Feb-2012 09:00 am (UTC)
Revealing her identity wasn't such a good idea regarding the presumption of innocence but it's not like the media actually care about that.

Edited at 2012-02-13 09:02 am (UTC)
calcetinita 13th-Feb-2012 09:06 am (UTC)
She was fined in January. The articles were written in February. There isn't much innocence left to presume about.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
miracle_candle 13th-Feb-2012 09:20 am (UTC)
omg... how can a mother do this kind of thing?

1) it is such an immoral thing to do. you as a parent has a responsibility to be a good example to your children and did you know what this kind of thing can affect your children life? plus, it's you son's acquaintance.

2) when she did this, did she know the consequences that can affect her daughter image as an idol and public figure in j-ent?

3) this is not a mistake on her part. she did it several times with the boy and in a love hotel. i'm sure she's the one whose paying the hotel room.

poor takamina. i wonder how she's doing right now. is her parents already divorced?

nyxera 13th-Feb-2012 09:23 am (UTC)
..I'm sorry, I got too distracted by your icon. xD
fuzzyspider 13th-Feb-2012 10:16 am (UTC)
How damaged is this girl's career because of this? Is the media calming down, forgotten because of Jin, is she finished, or what? I dunno anything about her or akb but I randomly came across some mean humiliating videos about this on youtube the other day I think I was looking at host club vidoes and I was like "oh hey i saw that on arama" and yeah sorry i cant sleep.
benihime99 13th-Feb-2012 10:25 am (UTC)
Well it was scandal week so I don't know if this is a "Top story" anymore.
There was the Jin/Meisa thing, and then the death of whitney Houston which is a cataclysm in the music industry so I don't know if this is still front page material.
krzhope 13th-Feb-2012 10:21 am (UTC)
i'm on the side of tv news program here instead of those gossip magazines...they reported the correct story and even mentioned the group's name just not the name of the member and it is not like Minami Takahashi was directly involved, right? it just happened to be her mother...those gossip magazines just want to sell papers since AKB is big in japan...
ifuckingluvya 13th-Feb-2012 10:38 am (UTC)
the point is that should be other celebrity /not a johnny either/ they would report it, so it really sends a message that if you are in a powerful company media won't touch you. So much for independence and trustworthy

fyi I'm not implying that they should be putting the celebrety's name out there and judge them for their relatives crime. just pointing out how things are differente depending your power in the industry
ifuckingluvya 13th-Feb-2012 10:43 am (UTC)
I'm such terrible person lol the first thing I thought while looking at this was "wow she looks like she is into her 60s lol so ugly"
funkaliciousss 13th-Feb-2012 03:23 pm (UTC)
lol i see her resemblance to takamina tbh.
queencleopatra 13th-Feb-2012 11:09 am (UTC)
Takamina is not allowed to leave AKB. Not now, not ever, and ESPECIALLY not for this. It's such a shame that some celebs have such shit families. Her brother sounds like an asshole, like Maki Goto's brother. :/ Why can't they just be supportive FFS.
jennyhime 13th-Feb-2012 11:57 am (UTC)
Anotger reason why it was not reported on so widely was that Akimoto threatened not to allow magazines
to publish pictures/books of any of the girls so the papers didn't report about it.
She should have been punished more seriously, now she just got a slap on the wrist.
calcetinita 13th-Feb-2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
I find it scary that the media can be controlled so easily. But Takamina did nothing wrong and shouldn't have to be punished at all. And since the punishment for the mom was decided on before the news broke, Aki-P had nothing to do with that either.

Edited at 2012-02-13 12:34 pm (UTC)
lovelycandygirl 13th-Feb-2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
got caught yo!
rosemaine 13th-Feb-2012 12:31 pm (UTC)
Disgusting, I wonder if she bribed the child using something related to AKB
antifools 13th-Feb-2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
He's not an innocent child. Actually he's a delinquent who is bossing Takamina's brother around. The neighbors has been complaining about this idiot coming over to the mother/brother's house and making a lot of disturbance in the neighborhood.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
reika7667 13th-Feb-2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
I do not know if this is the right thing to feel but, I feel bad for Takamina more than her mother. Her career will be so much damaged in this, and she might even leave akb! though it's not even her fault, it's so sad that she have to take some part at this...
taciturndream 13th-Feb-2012 01:03 pm (UTC)
If it's an awful thing for close people to you to know, I can't imagine how she might be feeling after this was spread to the media. Hope she finds it easy to deal with, somehow. =/
chibi_hime 13th-Feb-2012 02:23 pm (UTC)
SMH at some of these comments.

For those of you who are confused, I'll let Wikipedia help explain. "The term "statutory rape" generally refers to sex between an adult and a sexually mature minor past the age of puberty. Sexual relations with a prepubescent child, generically called "child molestation", is typically treated as a more serious crime."

There is usually a minimal age difference between the two involved. So those of you who say "a 16-year old having sex with an 18 year old", your argument is invalid.

Consensual or not isn't even the point here. There is something seriously wrong if a 44-year old woman caves in when a 15-year old requests sex. Did he stand in front of the hotel and stomp his feet, screaming "I want it! I want it!!" until she agreed? There are also serious psychological ramifications when a minor is involved with an old sexual partner. Of course, at first he thinks it's great, but who knows what damage will come up later on.
chibi_hime 13th-Feb-2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
Also, the fact that this new didn't break until weeks after she was arrested shows that Akimoto did his best to suppress it and hide her name. So of course it's going to look shady.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
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antifools 13th-Feb-2012 02:45 pm (UTC)
Does the Japanese people even care? It's not like it's the idol's fault in the first place. You can't choose your parents.
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