The story of the teenage female idol who was successfully sued recently for violating her company’s dating ban has been a major media story. Another recent idol in love story is the marriage of TOKIO’s Kokubun Taichi, but his story is being handled very differently. Similar questions were raised though about how Taichi’s announcement could affected the revenue of his company, Johnny & Associates.
The Japan Times investigated the politics of marriage within Johnny & Associates. The newspaper noted that Taichi isn’t the first Johnny to get married, but the first to hold a formal press conference to announce it. In 2007, V6’s Inohara Yoshihiko held a press conference with his wife Seto Asaka to announce their marriage. Taichi’s press conference is different though, due to the fact that his wife is not a public figure and she was not present at the press conference. No information about her has been released except for her former profession and how she met Taichi.
The women’s magazine Shukan Josei thinks the press conference may’ve been a calculated move on Taichi’s part to further his career as a television host. In 2010, Yoshihiko became a host on NHK’s morning show “Asaichi”, and ratings grew, in part because of his image as a family man since his marriage. This image endeared him to the show’s large audience of housewives.
A tv producer told Shukan Josei that Johnny’s was coming to terms with the fact that many of their talents were approaching middle age and reaching their expiration dates as idols. The move into television hosting was the next logical step. Since the company is so powerful, it isn’t difficult for Johnny & Associates to place their aging idols in these positions. SMAP’s Nakai Masashiro, who is the host of several popular tv shows, is pointed out as a prime example of the practice.
Taichi was a host of Fuji TV’s coverage of the London and Sochi Olympics, but an employee of Fuji TV tells Shukan Josei that the channel was not happy with his performance. Taichi lacked the knowledge of sports and the interview skills to pull off the job.
After the Olympics, he became a host of TBS’ morning show “Hakunetsu Live Vivit”, putting him in direct competition with Yoshihiko, whose show’s ratings are more than 3 times higher than Taichi’s. It is thought that Taichi’s marriage announcement is an attempt to garner him the same family man image that helped Yoshihiko do well at “Asaichi”, but Taichi lacks the spark of Yoshihiko. Taichi is a nice guy, but as he said at his marriage press conference, he is dull and not a talker.
What the press really wants to know is what does Johnny Kitagawa think of Taichi’s marriage. A Shukan Bunshun article stated that when a Johnny wants to marry, his managers normally take the time to explain to him how marriage will hurt his popularity. He is then given time to mull over the information. Many change their mind, but this doesn’t mean that they end their relationships. A prime example of this is SMAP’s Katori Shingo, who has been living with his girlfriend for a number of years. Shingo doesn’t feel the need to get marry, but perhaps Taichi had to because his girlfriend wanted children. Celebrities having children out of wedlock is still considered a taboo.
A reporter on Nippon TV’s afternoon show “Joho Live Miyaneya” wondered if Taichi’s announcement would result in a rush of Johnny’s marriages. He was very excited about the idea of a big name, like Masahiro, marrying. Earlier this year, Masahiro had a growth removed from his throat as the result of his two packs a day cigarette habit. He has since given up cigarettes, but Shukan Josei thinks he may pick them up again unless he has a reason to truly quit once and for all, such as a family. If it’s between death and marriage, surely Johnny & Associates would pick marriage to protect their investment, no?