Japanese celebrities and group mentality


稲垣1Japan is a very collective society. While American society focuses the importance of individuality, Japanese society is quite the opposite. Your personal needs and uniqueness are important but always, your group’s needs come before anything else. We are part of some kind of groups. If you are a student, you are part of your school. You are a classmate, a friend of a popular student group.

As you get older, you become a responsible member of Japanese companies, organizations and entities. So your behavior can reflect badly upon the reputation of the group you belong to. Not always but when it happens, it is bad.

There was a case with SMAP. SMAP has been the most famous Japanese male idol group. They are in 40s now but they have sustained their popularity for almost two decades. It is very impressive that they have sustained their presence in Japanese entertainment industry for this long. But they’ve gone through ups and downs.

This is really hard to understand for some westerners. My hubby was like..”Why? He was an idiot but why does the rest of the group need to be punished also?”

Gorou Inagaki is a popular member of SMAP. He allegedly parked in a wrong spot in Shibuya-ku (the most crowded part of Tokyo). Police was just about to give Mr. Inagaki a violation ticket, and for some reason, he still moved his car. He was likely to have panicked and then hit the police’s knee. He was told to refrain from any media activities by his agent, so Mr. Inagaki was grounded for quite a long time.

He might have just freaked out as fans started to recognize Mr. Inagaki and they were starting charge at his car. And this comes Japanese way of handling this type of issue. If it was in America, as long as he can get bailed out, he will probably go to the concert as if nothing has happened.

But Johnny’s agency SMAP belongs to held an emergency press conference at 12am. Yes Mid night!!! The head of the company announced that the concert will not be cancelled but Mr. Inagaki will not be allowed to participate in this concert. Then of course the head of the Johnny’s bow deeply while apologizing for causing inconveniences and troubles to related people and fans..

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…And years later, another member of SMAP gets arrested for indecent behavior in public. LOL

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi was drunk and completely undressed himself in a park in Tokyo. Neighbors called the police. He was arrested immediately for not following the police order. then Johnny’s and Mr. Kusanagi held a press conference and he maintained that he did not have any recollection of this event due to alcohol.

Luckily both of them returned to SMAP fairly quickly but Japanese definitely have this group mentality and if you make a mistake or drag, you are bothering the group. And the group may also suffer the consequences as a result.

When do we get this type of training? Mine started in Junior high. We did a number of field training trip and we had various assignments and if I was late for 5 minutes, all my group members had to stand in the corner. Lose free time or break time..so it was a lot of pressure.

This group mentality and collective training start very early in Japanese education. So this explains why Japanese people seem to just apology without really meaning it or without admission any wrongdoing.

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