Age-inappropriate romance, on screen or off, stirs up passionate reactions. Cougars — an American term for middle-aged women who actively seek out younger lovers — find both supporters (who see them as adventurous and sexy) and slammers (who deride them as deluded and shameless). I like a saying of my mother’s: What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Or meat for the cougar.

In Japan, where new acquaintances often exchange ages soon after their name cards, age gaps yawn wider than elsewhere, especially in show business. Media stories about celebrity couples inevitably comment, often with a tut-tut or a nudge-nudge, on any age difference considered out of the ordinary, such as the woman being older than the man, period.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.