[2016] Week 33 & 34: Eats, Reads, Beats, and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

It’s been a stressful week last week to the point that I didn’t even get to write a weekly wrap-up post, so I’m merging two  wrap-ups in this entry! 🙂 Eats CoCo Ichibanya This famous curry restaurant from Japan is … Continue reading

[J-Pop] SMAP Urges Voters to Back Incumbents in Election

SMAP, the Japanese pop group that has dominated the nation’s music scene for more than two decades, urged voters to support incumbent politicians as the ruling party faces likely defeat in a national election this weekend.

The five-member all-male group, which has had a top-10 selling compact disc for 17 straight years with songs such as “Celery” and “Fly,” appeared in a four-page newspaper ad this week titled “How to Build a Happy Nation.”

“When the economy is good, prime ministers are popular, but in bad times, that popularity fades,” the band said in the ad, which was wrapped around the Aug. 26 morning edition of the Sankei newspaper. “Still, these are people whom we’ve elected, so let’s make some allowances and support them.”

The ad is an appeal to young voters to support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Takao Sasaki, a professor of politics and media at Heisei International University in Saitama, north of Tokyo.

“The ad clearly backs the LDP and Aso, and it could affect younger voters and SMAP fans who haven’t decided whom to support,” said Sasaki. It may have confused readers because it didn’t cite any products or affiliation on the first page, Sasaki said, adding he initially thought the ad had been placed by the election management commission as a public service.

Victor Entertainment Inc., which sells SMAP CDs and is a subsidiary of JVC Kenwood Holdings Inc., said it paid for the advertisement. An official at SMAP’s agent Johnny & Associates declined to answer questions on the phone about the ad.

‘Sotto Kyutto’

On the back side of the double-paged spread is an ad for a new CD called “Sotto Kyutto” or Softly, Tightly, which went on sale on Aug. 26 for 1,155 yen ($12.30).

The advertisement wasn’t meant to support any specific candidate or political party, said Yoichi Miyagawa, a Victor official who manages the SMAP account.

While the ad doesn’t mention any politicians by name, the message is clearly voicing support for Prime Minister Taro Aso and his party, said Susumu Kato, a managing director and chief economist at Calyon Securities.

The LDP, which has governed Japan for all but 10 months since 1955, is facing a landslide loss in the Aug. 30 election, according to newspaper polls.

“This advertisement wrapped around a national newspaper delivers a strong and clear message to support Aso and the ruling party,” said Kato. “The problem is it’s unclear who is behind this advertisement and for what purpose. The ad could affect the decisions of younger voters.”

112 Seats

The Democratic Party of Japan, which had 112 seats in the lower house when parliament was dissolved last month, may win more than 320 of the 480 seats to be contested in the election, the Asahi newspaper reported yesterday, citing its own telephone survey taken Aug. 22-25.

An LDP spokesman who declined to be identified said that while the party wasn’t involved in planning or creating the ad, it appreciated it as a show of support.

Sankei, a national newspaper that has a daily circulation of 1.8 million, said in a statement faxed to Bloomberg News the advertisement was appropriate and neutral.

SMAP debuted in April 1988 and its members are between the ages of 32 and 37, according to the Johnny & Associates Web site. Members of the group appear on their own in TV dramas, variety shows and music programs each day of the week, and the group appears together in a variety program called “SMAP x SMAP” that airs every Monday from 10 p.m. They also appear in commercials for companies such as Softbank Corp.

Indecent Exposure

One member of the band, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, 35, dominated media coverage for several days when he was arrested in April for indecent exposure in Hinokicho Park in the Akasaka neighborhood of Tokyo. Kusanagi had appeared in a government- sponsored campaign promoting digital TV. The ads were suspended temporarily and have resumed airing.

Tokyo prosecutors decided not to indict Kusanagi because he showed remorse, and the singer rejoined his group to tape “SMAP x SMAP” in late May, Kyodo News reported May 28.


[J-TV] Kusanagi to come back as promoter of digital broadcasting

TOKYO – Pop star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi will come back as the promoter of the government-backed campaign on Japan’s shift to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting from analog in 2011, entertainment industry sources said Thursday. Kusanagi, 35, a member of the pop music group SMAP, was sacked as campaign promoter after he was arrested in April on suspicion of public indecency for stripping naked while under the influence of alcohol at a Tokyo park.

Kusanagi will attend a ceremony on digital broadcasting in Tokyo on Friday, just two years before the shift to digital broadcasting, the sources said. Kusanagi has offered to serve as campaign promoter for free for the coming two years, according to the Association for Promotion of Digital Broadcasting, an organization formed by broadcasters and electric machinery makers.

After his arrest, the association asked all the country’s broadcasters not to air commercials that feature Kusanagi. Kusanagi was arrested on April 23 and was freed the following day after prosecutors decided not to indict him.

On May 28, Kusanagi returned to the entertainment business, about a month after he was arrested.

Japan Today

[K-Pop] Lee Minwoo wants a ‘Shinhwa talk show’ just like SMAP

Credits: Sports Seoul + Absolut Shinhwa + shinhwa.biz + asianfanatics

Shinhwa’s role model is known to be Japanese pop group SMAP, who has the reputation of being the ‘national idol group’ in Japan.

Lee Minwoo, who has just returned to the music scene with his Vol 4.5 album, Minnvation, has hopes of ‘creating a talkshow in the name of Shinhwa’. According to a source close to him, “Shinhwa hopes to continue activities the way SMAP has, and have their own talkshow like SMAP does.”

Debuted in 1992, SMAP has released countless hits, and the members, besides having their own solo activities, also host a regular talkshow variety program together on Fuji TV ‘SMAP×SMAP’, and continue to enjoy the status of being among the most popular stars in Japan.

Shinhwa made their debut in 1998, and has since then gone on to become Korea’s longest-running group. As members Eric and Kim Dongwan are now serving their military duties, the group Shinhwa gone on a temporary hiatus. Once all the members have fulfilled their military obligations, they will be starting on group activities again, and meet their fans once again via concert tours in Korea and Asia.

[J-Pop] NHK vs Johnny’s Entertainment

Clothing-averse pop star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi might be back on the celebrity circuit again, but his lightning-fast rehabilitation hasn’t come without the odd hitch. Weekly magazine Shunkan Bunshun reported in its June 11 edition on a feud between NHK and Johnny’s, the imperious talent agency behind Kusanagi’s supergroup, SMAP.

In an article rich in sensationalism and low on specifics, the magazine claimed that NHK had incurred the wrath of Johnny’s after it defied a request from the agency not to transmit a live broadcast of the press conference held with Kusanagi after his arrest.

As a result, it seems that the broadcaster wasn’t even invited to the soft-focus conference held with Kusanagi on May 28, prior to his TV comeback.

Does this mean that SMAP won’t be appearing on NHK’s end-of-year extravaganza, “Kohaku Uta Gassen?” Your guess is as good as ours. (Metropolis)

japan today

[J-Celeb] Kusanagi returns to showbiz after arrest

Pop star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi expressed joy at his return to the entertainment business Thursday, about a month after he was arrested for stripping naked in a Tokyo park while under the influence of alcohol.

‘‘I will strive anew as a member of (music group) SMAP. I feel happy that I can work as one of the members,’’ Kusanagi, 34, told reporters, appearing nervous as he joined the taping of the ‘‘SMAP x SMAP’’ TV variety program in Tokyo.

Kusanagi said that during the time he stayed away from entertainment activities, he read books or did squats and other exercises at home. ‘‘I tried to stay healthy both in body and mind,’’ he said.

The program is a weekly show on Fuji Television Network and Thursday’s taping will be aired Monday. Kusanagi will also appear on Fuji’s daily lunchtime program ‘‘Waratte Iitomo’’ on Friday.A Japanese pop star who was arrested last month after dancing drunk and naked in a Tokyo park returned to the limelight Thursday.

Kusanagi had voluntarily stayed out of the public eye since his April 23 arrest on suspicion of public indecency. But prosecutors dropped charges after Kusanagi profusely apologized in a nationally televised news conference and promised not to overdrink again.

In Japan, misbehaving celebrities voluntarily stop working, sometimes for years if the scandal is serious, because they are expected to be role models in a conformist and reserved society.

In his comeback news conference, Kusanagi, wearing a dark suit and tie, sometimes paused over his words, overcome with emotion, when he vowed to never cause such hardships for his fellow SMAP members, who had repeatedly bowed in apology on TV shows. One had even wept.

“I was overcome with joy,” he told reporters when recalling his telephone conversations earlier in the day with SMAP members. “I am so happy that I am going to be able to work again with them.”

His arrest was the top news item here with major TV networks repeatedly broadcasting footage of a glum Kusanagi being escorted to a police van. Almost immediately, public sentiments went out to him as a police raid of his home failed to turn up evidence of more serious crimes. High-profile commentators said he should be forgiven.

Kusanagi’s comeback came relatively soon—after just 35 days.

“The support of my fans was what kept me going, and I am filled with gratitude,” he said.

The slender, long-haired Kusanagi was a regular on several Japanese TV shows. He has also starred in movies. Fluent in Korean, he is also popular in South Korea.

Besides canceled appearances, TV commercials starring Kusanagi, including government ones for digital terrestrial TV broadcasting, were taken off the air. But they, too, are expected to return.

Japan Today

[Japan] Kusanagi to make TV comeback May 28 after indecency arrest

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, who was arrested last month for public indecency, will make his comeback in the entertainment business with the taping of a TV variety program on May 28, the talent agency he belongs to said Thursday. The program, “SMAP x SMAP,” a weekly show on Fuji Television Network, will be aired June 1.

Tokyo prosecutors have decided against indicting Kusanagi, 34, because he had expressed regret and had already suffered social embarrassment. The agency, Johnny & Associates, said his comeback had been decided on following repeated discussions with relevant parties in the advertising, television, cinema, radio, magazine and other businesses, lenient action by the authorities, and the opinions of many fans.

Kusanagi, a member of the pop group SMAP, was arrested naked and drunk in a central Tokyo park in the early hours of April 23.