Critical Thinking Session

Nana Okada's breach is causing a debate, but is it really a scandal?

   The other day, there was a breaking news about one of the main fingures of Japanese idol group AKB48 named Nana Okada, in which she was reported to have a boyfriend. Okay, this should sound too foolish to even pick up as a news, but, in Japan, whenever an idol group member's love scandal is reported, it does really shake the community who support the group. And the reason is: Japanese idols are basically selling their fans an illusion that makes them believe that they are personally intimate.


    Well, considering the nature of capitalism combined with Japanese society which isn't tied down to any religious restrictions, it certainly makes sense that everything, even an innocent feeling of love, makes product sold in the market. And there are a lot of fans that want those idols too stay innocent and pure just to keep their fantasy alive. The management office of AKB48 has been renowned for their strict rules that keep the image of their products, those girls on the stage, chaste and stainless. However, this time, they announced that there are no existing rules that prohibits their idols to fall in love, but it's something voluntary.


    Okay, here the word comes again, "voluntary." In this context, it is obvious that the idols are expected to keep away from boys to remain supported as an idol, but it's not an obligation given by the management, and the decisions are up to each member of the group. As long as they all know that their fan base would strongly expect or almost force them to stay single, there seems to be no choice for the members but to follow the unwritten rule.


    Well, this is disgusting in three senses. First, it simply violates their human rights to live on their own free will. Second, and what's really nasty is that the management is dodging the responsibility eithier for the fans or the members by denying the rules. From their business model, it is clear to everyone's eye that making a boyfriend means a fierce bashing that might end their careers as an idol, and the business model itself rules their decisions and actions. Third, they are not doing their best to make everyone happy. If they really mean that the members have rights to do whatsoever they like to do, they should change the business model accordingly. Now, the girls are just products that bring them sales, and the fans are just an easy touch who make lines to supply them with money.


    If they want the fans and the members to become happy through the service, they should stop displaying those girls in costumes to play a doll, and make them a respected human who would enjoy being honest in front of their fans. Concept makes everything including the way people think and the way people communicate. Idol business is a communication business, and it certainly needs a better concept.



1. What do you think about the scandal?


2. Do you think the business is violating human rights?


3. If you were the chief officer, how would you change the business model?