If you’ve been following the Nikkei 225 index – that is, Japan’s stock market average, similar to the Dow Jones Industrial Average – it might be because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aggressive fiscal policies have been improving Japan’s economy rapidly, and maybe you’re interested in that – but surely not because it helps you decide what to wear today. But this is exactly what the new J-pop concept idol group Machikado Keiki Japan is doing – the four young girls in the teen vocal group base what they wear on how the Nikkei Index is doing. But it gets better — or worse, depending on your perspective – than that.
This idol group – a phenomenon that is quite famous and ubiquitous in Japan – is made up of very young girls from 16 to 23, and their unique contribution to the Japanese pop scene is that the length of their skirts grows shorter and shorter as the Nikkei index improves. If anything, this would surely be an added impetus to all those salarymen to do their best and give their contributions to the Japanese economy, if only to, err… see how short skirts can go? To this effect, Kanon Mori, Yuki Sakura, Hinako Kuroki and Jun Amaki – members of the new girl group – have been following the stock average obsessively since Prime Minister Abe took office in December. The name of their group, Machikado Keiki Japan, translates roughly to “economic conditions in the streets of Japan”, and the wardrobe changes have been numerous as Japan’s index kept surging.
“We base our costumes on the price of the Nikkei average of the day. For example, when the index falls below 10,000 points, we go on stage with really long skirts,” Mori explained. At above 10,000, they went for mini-skirts. And with the Nikkei index ending above 13,000 on the day of the interview, the four went without skirts altogether, choosing to go with lacy shorts. If one remembers right, the bubble economy saw Japan’s index reach unimaginable heights in the 1990’s, the index averaging at around 38,000. What was the group’s opinion of that, and how would that affect their wardrobe? “The image I have of the bubble economy in the ’90s, is people dancing around and exposing their body,” said the 17-year-old Amaki. And we will let that comment stand on its own.
The absurdity in this – and surely someone else other than me sees it – is not only are these ladies quite young (the youngest at 16, and what if Abenomics pushes the index to 20,000? What then?), but that apart from the daily index level which is immediately available on the Internet, they really don’t know much about economics, do they? This direct correlation between the length of their skirts and the Nikkei average is a non-sequitur at best, but don’t think that this at all discourages their fans – a majority of them part of the Japanese male population aged 16 to 40. In fact, one would not dare imagine how many Japanese men right now are praying – and working hard, mind you – to get the economy better. And might the Japanese economic situation be all the more improved because these young girls? I’d hate to say “yes”, but this is Japan. Things that float the boat here come in different shapes and sizes – and lengths of skirts, too.