The other day I had the chance to interview an actual member of the Japanese television network music-media complex, and that person confirmed all the terrible things I had only once believed were part of my comfortably paranoid fantasy of how the Japanese entertainment world works. So in this new spirit of assuming the worst and being right, let us re-examine the Hamasaki Ayumi engagement saga.
1) Johnny’s Jimusho has secret deals with the other big jimushos to create media stories that Johnny’s male idols are dating the top ranked female idols. At almost every time, the biggest selling female idol coincidentally happens to be dating one of Johnny’s stars. But they’re not really dating, and that’s why some of the ladies end up marrying other people out of the blue to everyone’s great surprise. Clearly, Avex had made the same deal with JJ, setting up Hamasaki with Nagase from TOKIO for show purposes.
2) So, huge egg on everyone’s face when Shukan Bunshun comes out with the news that Hamasaki Ayumi is actually dating a non-geinoujin American — not Nagase — and the engagement suggests that the Nagase relationship has been off for a while, even though the media was pretending it was on.
3) Avex freaks out because (a) Johnny’s sees this as Avex’s problem to be cleaned up and (b) they don’t want this development to affect the sales of their biggest artist.
4) Immediately, Avex goes into disinformation mode, warns all the networks and papers not to report the engagement story — an order to which the media of course obliges.
5) Finally, when the story “breaks” in the mainstream media, it comes out with various anonymous sources claiming that Hamasaki is well-known to visit gay bars, and perhaps, Tim is just one of her friends from that world * wink, wink *. The engagement is off, there is a suggestion that Bunshun invented the Tiffany’s story, and he must be really gay. Problem solved. Nobody in the media asks follow up questions.
I find it highly possible that the engagement was real and that the structures of the Japanese entertainment scene have again crushed someone’s private life. But this world is all about giri (duty) vs. ninjou (human emotions), with the latter being impossible when there’s money to be made.