Feminists of all stripes are having a field day with the Minami Minegishi scandal, but the Feb. 17 editorial, “AKB48 and sexual politics,” is the second Japan Times editorial to cite irrelevant data in the course of analyzing the issue.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report does list Japan as No. 101 of 135 nations, but this ranking is irrelevant to the Minegishi scandal or to pop idol culture in general.
Rankings in the Gender Gap report are based on four pillars: (1) economic participation and opportunity, (2) educational attainment, (3) health and survival, and (4) political empowerment.
Japan ranks so low not because Japanese men like to ogle cute young women in bikinis (a trait shared by the majority of men on Earth) but because Japan scores low in the participation of women in the workforce and in the number of female elected officials.
Other countries that have a pop idol culture such as the United States and the United Kingdom rank very high (No. 22 and No. 18, respectively), while countries that have no pop idol culture, such as Saudi Arabia (No. 131), rank very low.
Allowing female pop idols to date openly would do nothing to change these rankings. In fact, if Japan were to outlaw “no romance” contracts, we would expect the idols’ popularity to decline in general, resulting in less revenue and more women out of work, thereby depressing Japan’s first-pillar ranking even further.
Or, if the editorial writer’s own assumptions about male fans are taken to be true, we would expect to see the popularity (and employment prospects) of the female idols who choose to date decline vis-a-vis idols who are technically allowed to date but exercise more discretion than Minegishi.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.