Risk of legal retaliation by the management agency of AKB48 to media outlets over the the arrest of the mother of Minami Takahashi, a top member of the popular idol group, limited coverage of the scandal, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (Mar. 1).
To rewind, three male juveniles were arrested by Tokyo Metropolitan Police for assault last October. When one of the boys then confessed to having engaged in a sexual relationship with the idol’s 44-year-old mother, officers looked into the claim and arrested her after she admitted to misconduct.
Takahashi is the leader of Team A of the all-girl singing troupe. News of the arrest, first reported by tabloid Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 16), stunned fans of the wildly popular ensemble. Well-wishers sent thousands of messages of encouragement to the official blog of the AKB48-affiliated pop trio No Sleeves, which includes the 20-year-old Takahashi as a member.
The incident began at an apartment in Hachioji City shared by her mother and 15-year-old brother. The boy’s friends, all students at the same middle school, started to gather at the residence, and one of them, also 15 years of age, began to have an affair with the elder Takahashi. Her parents had divorced a few years prior.
“Last December, the mother was arrested for violating an ordinance regarding the healthy development of youths,” says a person involved in the investigation. “She was suspected of having a sexual relationship with the boy. The mother confessed, ‘I had to because they (the other boys) were threatening my son.’ Following a summary indictment in January, the woman received a fine of 500,000 yen.”
Jitsuwa notes that such a fine appears excessive considering penalties ranging between 200,000 and 300,000 yen are more common for similar incidents involving sexual indecency.
“The evidence shows that she was forced initially, but for the second meeting (and thereafter) she took the boy in her own car to a love hotel,” says a reporter specializing in legal affairs. “It is hard for her to deny that she was pursuing her own pleasure.”
According to Bunshun, Takahashi’s brother had in recent years garnered a reputation for being a trouble maker. When he entered the seventh grade, fellow students came to realize that he is the brother of the famous idol and often bombarded him with autograph requests. This seems to have caused him to skip school.
While this chain of events comes across as shocking, many television stations, sports newspapers, and weekly tabloids — the latter two of which are routinely on the prowl for salacious content — have remained quiet.
On February 7, the day before the Bunshun issue hit the stands, evening dailies Tokyo Sports, Yukan Fuji, and Nikkan Gendai did not include coverage of the affair, while weekly magazines Weekly Playboy, Flash, Friday, Shukan Asahi Geino, Shukan Taishu, Shukan Post, and Shukan Gendai also ignored the matter over the next 10 days.
By 4:00 p.m. that day, reports Cyzo, news wire services Jiji Press and Kyodo had released reports confirming the basic details of the matter but without indicating Takahashi’s name.
Shukan Jitsuwa cites the AKB48 management agency — whose name is not provided but is in fact AKS — as the reason for the lack of reporting. “The management agency answered inquiries from the media by requesting that consideration be made for the mother being a victim,” says a writer from a sports newspaper, who added that the news outlets were also asked to take into account that legal action was also possible. “This made the media stop.”
The entertainment industry relies on the substantial power of AKB48, continues the source. “There is a risk that reporting this incident may jeopardize business relationships.”
Shukan Jitsuwa says that Yasushi Akimoto, the group’s producer, has always maintained strong faith in Takahashi, alluding to her as the real leader of the group.
“She is in essence the student leader of the AKB ‘school’ of kids,” explains Hideo Horikoshi, a critic of the idol business. “She wasn’t a good dancer in the beginning but managed to master it through persistence and practice. That’s why other members follow her.”
Yet in spite of her lofty status, the scandal may end here.
Horigoshi says that since the incident does not involve Takahashi herself the media will probably refrain from pursuing it further.
“However, she may decide to do something,” the critic says. “She may forfeit re-election within the group due to the disturbance that has resulted.” (K.N.)
Source: “Inko taiho AKB48 Takahashi Minami no 44sai haha oya ga musabotta 15sai shonen to no aoi taihen,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Mar. 1, pages 204-205)
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