On 18 August Sho Sakurai talked about the kidnapping of a Japanese man in Syria by the extremist Islamic State during his news corner “Ichimen”. He explained that the Islamic State has had influence from Al-Qaeda since 9/11 and in 2006, while Iraq was regularizing their activities and clearing away the border, the Sunni Islam (the world’s second largest religious body) wanted to create a new country.
FiFi’s majored in Middle East Politics, so when FiFi saw this news report, she wrote the following tweet (which has already been eliminated):
“The way the idol from NEWS ZERO came about the Islamic State = ISIS and the contents were complete nonsense. I’m particularly appalled when he said that the United States and Arabia Saudi were providing weapons to the Asad regime [in Syria], even though the US has not been involved. It’s some kind of cheap talk. This is why terrestrial broadcasting isn’t reliable.”
According to J-Cast, she does have a point when she mentions the US and Arabia Saudi providing weapons to Syria. Iran’s national TV reported that Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel were supporting the Islamic State. Saudi Arabia and the US denied it and showed complete opposition to it.
At first, there were replies of agreement, but as the tweets began scattering it also caught the eye of many Arashi fans. They were under the impression that FiFi was “insulting Sho Sakurai”, and left comments such as “Do you know how he feels when reporting this news?”, “Since he is reporting the news, he would want to have the effort he puts in it recognized. Apologize for denying his efforts”. One comment even said “Sakurai has a higher academic background” and others just had nothing to do with the subject and criticized FiFi for other reasons.
Then, she defended herself with tweets like the following:
“It was a poor decision to allow an idol with a small corner in a news program to tackle a subject about the Middle East instead of a specialist in the field. Contents which can lead to a misunderstanding should be pointed out. Writing about criticizing an idol and changing the contents of an article and getting the fans involved, isn’t that oppression of freedom of speech? Isn’t it strange that you can’t even express your opinion on the contents and the composition of a news program?”
“To Sakurai’s fans. Please forgive my previous tweets, my objective has been misunderstood. My manners have been bad and I think I have caused you some trouble. I hope you can show me your understanding through your replies.”
But even after this she received comments like “You think it’s the worst? You should apologize”, “You look like an adult but you don’t act like one” or “There are disgusting foreigners everywhere you go. Don’t tweet, you’re less than shit”. FiFi then posted this tweet:
“I will be deleting all the tweets regarding the incident with the news program since it has been requested that FiFi stops making these tweets. We hope to talk to you again and thank you from the bottom of our hearts all the people who have supported her. Goodbye (for now).”
At a radio show on 20 August, FiFi declared that she has stopped her activity on Twitter, not due to external pressure, but due to her own judgement. She expressed her desire to be able to discuss this issue with the Arashi fans who attacked her.