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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Media and Privacy in Japan

Just Bento/Just Hungry - Makiko Itoh on Food and Japanese Culture

"An aspect of the entertainment industry, or how the media deals with all public figures in Japan actually, is that any family members, relatives, partners and so on that are not already publicly known and/or in show biz themselves are not identified by name, and their faces are not shown, unless they indicate it’s ok to do so. In other words if they wish to remain private citizens (called ippanjin 一般人 - “regular person”) their wishes are respected by the media.

This privacy extends to children. Most celebrity parents display family photos with the kids’ faces blanked out, and don’t make their names public. (Non-celebrity parents in Japan tend to do this too, although I’m not quite sure of the thinking behind that. Just copying celebrities?) Some celebrity parent simply don’t show or even mention their kids (except their existence) at all.

Some examples:

- When Tokio member (who’s better known as a TV newscaster these days) Taichi Kokubun got married, his wife was simply identified as an “ippanjin”. This is standard procedure for any celebrity-“ippanjin” marriage or partnership.
- TV personality Hiromi is married to former pop idol Iyo Matsumoto. One son, Ryo’o Kozono, is an actor, but their other son has remained an “ippanjin”. When they show family photos the face of that son is blocked out or pixelated and his name is not mentioned.
- In 2015 an alleged affair between TV personality Becky and Enon Kawatani, the leader of the band Gesu no Kiwami Otome, dominated the gossip headlines for weeks. His wife at the time was an ippanjin, and she was never identified by name, nor was her face shown, even though she was the one who gave (or sold) the story to a gossip magazine."
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