AICHI (TR) – A 29-year-old woman accused earlier this month of burying the corpse of her newborn in her parents’ garden in Tokoname City was hooked on supporting a so-called “underground idol.”
On the night of April 18, police accused Kotomi Minagawa, of no known occupation, of abandoning a corpse.
During questioning, the suspect said that she gave birth to the child at her apartment in Nagoya’s Naka Ward in the middle of the month.
She then buried the body in the garden at her parents residence in the Yata area of Tokoname, located about 40 kilometers away.
On the morning of April, Minagawa’s mother found the infant buried in the garden while weeding. That night, police arrested the junior Minagawa on suspicion of abandoning a corpse.
There were no visible wounds on the body which were wrapped in a pink towel and covered with dirt. Police said the infant’s gender could not be determined.
Police added that the results of a planned autopsy would be used to determine the cause of death. They added that the suspect’s parents were unaware that she was pregnant.
Though reporting on most stories of this nature end at this point, the site for weekly tabloid Shukan Josei decided to press further — and the results revealed a sad tale of fandom fueled through work in the sex trade.
Minagawa’s residence is a small apartment with a rent of around 60,000 yen per month. For work, she toiled at several “night” establishments.
“I heard that the infant was fathered by a man she met [at one of the businesses],” an acquaintance tells the reporter, “but it seems that nobody really knows who the identity of the father.”
At one point in her life, Minagawa worked at a university and as a nursery school teacher. Therefore, the reporter wondered: Why would she be toiling in the sex trade?
According to the aforementioned acquaintance, the answer was her addition to a popular male “chika aidoru” (or underground idol), a term applied to small-time performers who play small shows at clubs in big cities.
“She has been hooked [on him] and attending all of the events of his group all over Japan,” the acquaintance says. This fascination began in 2017. “She spent a lot of money, and she couldn’t even pay her mobile telephone or utility bills. There were many times when the electricity in her apartment was turned off.”
Similar to a host club
A club insider in Nagoya says the idol was something of a pioneer among idols in the city.
“He originally very popular,” the insider says. “But in the end, [the group’s] CDs did not sell as well as they had hoped, and fans who had supported them for a long time took desperate measures to support them.”
The reporter asks, just how “desperate?”
“Of course, groups with a large number of fans can expect their CDs to sell, but in order to sell a decent number of copies to a small number of people, it is necessary to get each person to make a ‘mass purchase,'” continues the insider. “The actual amount depends on the fan. But some will buy 1,000 units.”
The source goes on to say that Minagawa was using this scheme to “support” the idol’s group through purchases that totaled around 1 million yen per month.
For the fans, the payback is photo sessions.
“In the underground idol world, it is standard to hold a photo session after a CD purchase at a price of several thousand yen,” the source says. “Zealous fans will do this multiple times.”
For the idol in question, he allowed fans to get rather close during the photo sessions. “The members engage in hugging, leaning [toward the fans] and do some body touching,” the insider assures.
Indeed, says Shukan Josei, the underground idol trade operates similar to that of a host club — i.e. luring a woman just close enough to think that romance is brewing while simultaneously taking her for whatever money she can provide.
An acquaintance of the idol tells the reporter that he learned of the incident through news reports.
“He seems to have somehow guessed that the suspect was working in the sex trade, but when he was active in the group, he could only follow the [group’s management office] policy of ‘support’ [i.e. excessive CD buying],” the acquaintance says. “In all honesty, he said that he was disgusted with such an approach. I also heard that he and his office were interviewed by the police in connection with this incident.”
The aforementioned club insider says that the blame for the abandonment of the corpse lies with Minagawa, but the idol industry itself is rife with problems.
“In order to make a profit, they put a burden on the members and force them to engage in ‘love business,'” the source says, “and then they make the fans outlay large sums of money. I pray that there will be no more incidents due to this darkness.”