The biggest entertainment world scandal in Japan of late has been the allegations of past sexual assault made against one of the nation's most famous comedians, Hitoshi Matsumoto. The reports first emerged in a tabloid magazine in late December and have continued to unfold. At first, Matsumoto, his agency (Yoshimoto Kogyo), and broadcasters ignored or gave the report a minimal denial, and colleagues offered on-air support, but more revelations are still trickling out in further articles, and 60-year-old Matsumoto has now withdrawn from his television commitments, nominally so he can pursue a ...

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A retiring actress has complained that the mainstream media is ignoring the open secret that is the casting couch in the entertainment industry. Though the sexual abuse that took place at Johnny's has now received the media attention it deserves after decades of silence, Misa Hayashi (林美佐) has said that there are still major issues of abuse in the industry. In an interview with Daily Shincho, Hayashi relates how she was told to sleep with people when her DVD sales were poor. This was when she was working as a gravure idol in her twenties. As we have noted in the past, the casting ...

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Regular readers might remember Ayana Kobayashi, whose stunning gravure shoot we wrote about in 2019. It was notable because she did an alluring nude shoot with her butt and nipples on display despite being married (to a comedian). She has since released a couple of DVDs. It's perhaps because she's a bit of an outsider -- someone who came to mainstream gravure a bit late and already married with a child -- that she's freer to say certain things. Now in her early thirties, Kobayashi recently made headlines with a blog entry in which she described her own experience with sexual ...

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In the age of #MeToo, the job of the intimacy coordinator in film and television has risen to prominence in the West. What about Japan? With the recent scandals over the likes of directors Sion Sono and Hideo Sakaki, documentary filmmaker Yu Kaneko, and actor Houka Kinoshita, concern over sexual predators and harassment is higher than ever (albeit much more belated than in the United States and Europe). Intimacy coordinators do exist, though are a rare species indeed. Gendai Media recently published a two-part interview with Momoko Nishiyama, one of only two professional intimacy ...

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While Japan is always keen to promote its traditional culture to the world, the truth about it is sometimes complex and not altogether positive. Geisha are one of the most iconic images associated with Japan, especially Kyoto. But in very simplistic terms, geisha were and remain not so different from modern-day hostesses in that they get paid to entertain patrons who were/are typically male, older, and wealthy. There is, of course, still a culture of geisha today in places like Kyoto. One ex-trainee geisha (known as a maiko) has caused a stir by sharing some of the more unsavory facts about ...

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How consensual is porn? The upcoming change to the age of adulthood in Japan and its implications for people signing contracts to do porn has prompted politicians to scramble to make legislation protecting teenagers from embarking upon an adult video career. (Opposition lawmaker Ayaka Shiomura, however, has faced male laughter when addressing the issue in the Diet.) The situation has reignited the issue of consent and coercion in porn, with some arguing that women as young as 18 or 19 shouldn't be allowed to sign contracts independently due to the complex nature of the legal clauses and ...

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The fashion model and celebrity Marie has stirred up the perennial issue of the casting couch in the Japanese entertainment world. The 33-year-old, who is half French Canadian and half Japanese, has claimed that she was propositioned when she was 18 by the now-retired comedian Shinsuke Shimada. The encounter is being described as "makura eigyo" (literally, pillow business), the Japanese word for the casting couch. Shimada was then at the height of his fame and the implication no doubt was that sleeping with him would further her own career. Marie made the allegation on April 4 and then ...

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#MeToo has yet to make inroads in Japan, despite a few scandals and efforts by feminist campaigners. In that respect, South Korean women are doing a better job at raising awareness of such problems as sexual abuse in the entertainment industry and secret recording of women in public toilets. A new campaign has launched, though, which shines a light on a different aspect of Japanese women's plight: high heels. Dubbed #KuToo (a play on the Japanese word for shoes, kutsu, and pain, kutsuu), the campaign calls on employers to stop enforcing dress codes that require female workers to wear ...

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A new commercial for German DIY store chain Hornbach has stirred controversy. It shows two unkempt and decidedly unhandsome white men getting all sweaty outside in the garden, watched by two scientific-looking bods. The men are then instructed to strip for the observers and hand over their apparently smelly briefs. The scene cuts to an unnamed East Asian city that looks like Hong Kong or a futuristic Tokyo. A woman approaches a vending machine and buys a package. it turns out to be one of the hairy German guys' briefs, sealed and fresh. The woman, who looks Japanese, gleefully opens the ...

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Well, as we know from recent weekly magazine content ranking which college girls are easiest, MeToo in Japan has yet to arrive fully. Now here's another example to add to the litany of shame, at least in the eyes of feminists. The most recent episode of Ken Shimura's comedy TV show, Shimura Ken no Bakatono-sama, on Fuji TV that was broadcast on January 9th included a sketch involving a "flesh futon" (niku-futon, literally "meat futon"). Inevitably this meant scantily-clad ladies. During the course of the sketch, Shimura was squeezed snugly between four pairs of women in bikinis and ...

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