52 comments on “Methods used by talent agencies to prevent their idols from dating

  1. I feel like I’m the only one ok with the no dating rule. I understand they have the right to be in love too but love can go so wrong so fast. A bad breakup can lead to different work

      • Don’t know how that’s particularly relevant. Every year thousands of Japanese girls flock to auditions knowing success will result in signing a covenant not to have a boyfriend for a period of time. Many thousands more choose not to attend these events and face such restrictions.

        • I don’t understand how what I said is particularly relevant to your question (if there was a question intended). The first guy says: “I’m OK with the no dating rule: I understand that in principle they have the right to love, but in practice, love can go wrong so fast! Better be safe than sorry and not give them any real choice in it to begin with!”

          My question to him was: how is anyone else’s love life any of your fucking business?

          • Yes, and it’s a question with a faulty assumption; that these girls’ love lifes are not anyones “fucking business”. It’s certainly their parents’ business and given Japan has chosen to have age of consent laws it’s relevant to their society too. The idols and their parents take it a voluntary step farther and make it the business of a corporate entity in exchange for valuable goods (money) and services (training).

            • You say that it’s a faulty assumption to say that these teenage girls’ love lives are not anyone’s fucking business. You say that it’s the underage child’s parents’ business, and I’m still in agreement with you on that point. But I think you realize full well I was not talking about these girls’ legal guardians.

              I trust you’ll tell me to piss off if you feel that I’m putting words in your mouth, but you’re also implying that the love lives of idols are, indeed, also your fucking business, the fucking business or the first commenter, the fucking business of all Japanese and overseas idol fans, and the fucking business of their employer.

              You justify all this based on Japan’s “age of consent laws” and “their society.” You justify this on the grounds of Japanese idol culture simply “being that way.”

              Well, all I can tell you is that we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I don’t care how legal it might be, how culturally acceptable something is, and I don’t give the slightest shit about accepting something just because “that’s how it’s always been,” as many, especially foreign fans it seems to me, tend to say when speaking about the no-dating rule.

              To some of us, the no-dating rule is simply an idea so completely and perfectly morally bankrupt it’s hard to find the words to describe it. It’s a rule that exists solely to make money at the expense of these girls’ life experience. Likewise morally bankrupt, miserable “fans” with sorry excuses for lives get into female idols and they expect them to remain virginal and pure for their enjoyment, perhaps to keep them company in their own lonely, pathetic existences.

              I don’t have anything against wota who are lonely, who have nothing going for them in life. In fact, I genuinely wish them all the best. But my sympathy for them wears thin when they begin to cause this sort of suffering to other people just because they wish to remain their imaginary boyfriends; because they wish to own them.

              A 10-year-old child walks into an office. She signs her name on a piece of paper, or her legal guardians write their names on a piece of paper in her stead. Years pass; the girl is 16 years old. Gradually, the girl realizes she does not appreciate all of her contractual obligations anymore.

              So, what? Should I just accept that this girl should’ve known better than to sign her name on a contract if she figured she was was going to experience feelings of love at a later age and maybe want to act on them? Should I blame her for failing to understand this at the age of 10, an age when she was probably too young to even comprehend the meaning of romantic love?

              I can already sense many of you beginning to type on your keyboards: “well, that’s the job, she can always just quit if she doesn’t like it.” And yes, she can. It’s certainly what many have done, it’s what many will do, and it’s what many wish they had the willpower to do, but they don’t, and so they continue only to suffer until they can muster up the courage.

              So hooray for the fucking no-dating rule.
              What an enriching, fundamental part of idol fandom!
              I don’t see how any of us could continue to be fans of our favorite idols without it!

              • Woah…chill out, dude! Go fuck some pussies or something. You need to get that angst off your chest. Just do what I do…imagine yourself on a deserted island with only Fukumura Mizuki and Uemura Akari with you. Then, let your mind do the rest.

                Call me in the morning if your symptoms persist, ok?

              • Without that rule, 90% of idols now can’t be in showbiz. I’m not sure how you view these J-idols. But if you think that they are different from western pop artists or different from K-Pop, what you will need to accept is that the rule is important to maintain J-idol existence and its uniqueness

      • Hey buddy sorry you’re so angry at the world. Of course it’s not my business. But alas the rules have been in place for years, look at Arashi they’ve been in the business a long time and are still unopen about their love lives. Honestly if they really cared they’ll do it anyway, and they do, so chill.

  2. I like that J-idols don’t have public relationships like celebrities in the West (because I don’t need to know about their private lives to appreciate their work), but as long as they got to keep their private lives private I think they should be allowed to date…

    • That’s actually a good point. The no-dating rule deprives the gossip rags of most idol related relationship drama. Without it, certainly the idol media landscape would look much different. The question is just how much different would it look and is it worth the price? I’m quite doubtful with regards to the latter.

  3. You will never look at idols the same way again after reading this, even if you are aware of the “no-dating” rule.

    I know I won’t! A perfect scare for Halloween (especially in light of recent events).

  4. Or assign them under good-looking producer.
    for H!P:
    – Tsunku is flamboyant toward girls, while not being general producer he still produce (some) music for them
    – Takui is good looking and always give highest respect toward girls, although he seems trying to avoid interaction with girls. well, he is still a bachelor after all ^^;
    – I don’t know about Hashimoto, he looks good too. Is he already married?
    – Eric is still too young for this :p

  5. H!P have somr issues in the past about this some members were broken the rules. But for me that’s more into each individuals’ fault/desire. I can see lots of them still follow the rule although they got some chances

  6. Sayashi might have read this and said, “Damn.”
    The next moment she was talking to the management, and just announced it herself. lol

  7. Consider the life of your typical Japanese teenager. They go to school. When that’s done they rush off to cram schools then go home and study into the wee hours of the night. They don’t have the time or opportunity for full blown romances anyhow. As I see it, agencies like H!P are extra intense cram schools which put reality in writing.

    I suppose the average Japanese teen has more opportunity to have a carnal romp in a deserted alley or school bathroom. But IMHO, kids shouldn’t be doing that sort of stuff anyhow.

  8. That sounds really tough. Even just never being left alone and not knowing about your schedule beforehand…

    Regarding Henkka’s eloquently conveyed message at the bottom, I must say that I fully agree.

  9. When Minegishi was caught and decided to post her shaved-headed apology, most of Japan thought it was too much. Some legal experts even suggested then that the no-dating rule was against basic labour laws of the country. I am surprised that a court of justice found for the agency, and not the idol. Could the judge be a wota?

  10. When you think about it, they go to all of these lengths to prevent a romantic relationship, but I bet in the end idols don’t end up having time for friends or family either.

    Having zero alone time must suck. Being an idol seems so hard. It’s so much pressure to put on teenagers.

  11. For purely selfish reasons, I like the no dating rule. It preserves the image of the idol, unlike young singers in America who are all assumed to be on drugs and have sex tapes floating about.

  12. Interesting this comes out after Kago revealed she had a boyfriend a year before she graduated from Morning Musume. There was a rumor Rika was dating an older idol after the Peace, but those rumors only crawled around 2ch because there were no photos.

  13. I love the no-dating rule and I honestly don’t see why people have problems with it. It’s an actual well known thing, not just some rumor, so everyone knows what they’re getting into. And to me, anyone willing to give up something like that shows a lot of dedication and deserves a lot of respect.

    • It certainly does shows dedication and dedication is definitely something I can respect.

      But that’s orthogonal to whether you think it’s a good role or not, unless you see it as a challenge kind of thing.

      Under the assumption that a life with more freedom has a higher quality of life, if we want the best for the members, we should prefer less unnecessary restrictions being placed on them. For the sake of the girls living a better life. I definitely fall into this camp at least.

      Of course, they did agree to the terms. It’s also a valid assumption that the current arrangement is, overall, mutually beneficial, even with restrictions such as this and the methods described above being employed. Otherwise nobody would become an idol or stay one for long after all. However, if getting rid of the rule improves the members life further, surely it would be preferable for that rule not to exist.

    • I get how you think, but one can’t forget that many of these idols get into the industry so young. They’re kids! Think of Riho and Zukki for example, they where what, 12? Way too young to fully understand what they’re getting into. I doubt that they at that point thought about love and relationships in a way they would do now, 5 years later. They just wanted to dance and sing.

      • I see what you’re saying but I’d like to think that their parents would sit them down and talk it over with them. Besides, if they decide that they want to date they can always quit.

  14. Damn, an idol’s life must suck. It’s not only that they don’t have time for a boyfriend, they don’t have time for family, friends, school (as in learning) or anything.

  15. Personally, I’m neutral about the rule. Maybe its because I’m aromantic so I don’t really understand the situation. It’s not like their never going to experience love and they can quit anytime they want. But I have to admit some of these methods are going to far.

  16. At a business perspective, it’s better for the girls not to date.

    Honestly for me, as long as they keep it private I don’t mind them dating

  17. I would sign, I don’t give a damn about love, it’s something I can live without, and I prefer the glamour, the being well-known, being able to sing, to have beautiful clothes, to have people cheer me and sing with me during live performances, learning to dance so cutely. Hell yeah!

    But… I’m not an idol, I don’t really know, and most of all, I’m not one of these girls or one of the guys, since this also happens in JE. What we think we would do is up to us, but we do not know their feelings. Hopefully, a few, maybe even just one, doesn’t have problems with this, is arromantic, asexual, maybe even lesbian or something that makes it easier for her. That’s my wish, because it would make things way easier the way I see it. I do believe it is unfair that they sign a contract at such a young age without really understanding what they’re getting into, both with the no date rule and in the idol life. I really don’t think a 12 year old would understand about being famous or idol either. It is unfair, yes, they signed for it, yes, it’s business, yes. But if fans stopped being so possessive, if they realized that they DO NOT own the idols, then the business issue wouldn’t exist. I personally don’t give a damn, it’s their life, if we like to keep some things private, why not idols? If we as fans want to know every single little thing we are also breaking into their lives, I think they find it annoying at some point, wouldn’t you? It’s the idea of owning the idols that started this rule, because if they are single, then we can fantasize easier about them being our girlfriends.

    We all have to realize that they are independent, they do not do whatever we want them to do, we can’t order them to feel something for us, nothing. They are light years away from us, and I don’t think that should stop us from fantasizing. We can just as well fantasize if they are in love and in a relationship, and even married. Hell, I fantasize about Angelina Jolie, and she can be happily married.

    • I have to disagree as to the business end. Even if we have a sea change in the attitudes of Japanese fans there is still a valid business issue.

      First off, many teenage girls cope very poorly with romances. I’ve seen it numerous times in my life where young girls get a boyfriend and will focus obscene amounts of time and effort into the relationship and let everything else slide. You can see it with Western entertainment stars too.

      Okay, now what does UFA do? They select partially and occasionally completely untrained/inexperienced girls and give them a chance in the Japanese entertainment industry by making them idols. Along the way the agency invests significant resources in the idols to make them capable entertainers and the idols need to give the agency their undivided time. If the idols can have boyfriends, their time suddenly becomes divided and the agency is at high risk of taking a serious loss.

      UFA being a business will of course manage the risk. My guess is the agency would begin to select more fully developed applicants like Sayashi Riho and tend to select somewhat older girls from an unwillingness to risk having to invest too many resources in girls who won’t concentrate because they have a boyfriend. I also suspect the untrained/minimally trained girls like Sato Masaki and Nakanishi Kana would have zero chance of being selected. I wonder what would happen to the Kenshusei program. I wouldn’t be surprised if girls would have to pay some sort of tuition to enter. Maybe it just gets shut down.

      This sort of smells like K-Pop to me!

  18. Henkka’s comment completely sums up my feelings about this weird bit of idol culture. I mean, I never thought my feelings could be summed up in an analogy about guitar and shit, but if it works, it works.

  19. guis, it’s really simple. If an idol thinks idol life>not having a boyfriend, she can stay. If an idol thinks having a boyfriend>idol life, she can just quit or not sign the contract to begin with. They’re not bound to a 10 year contract, we’ve seen plenty of examples of H!P members quitting prematurely and after they just entered a group.

    Although they have much busier lives than ordinary girls, idols receive privileges that a normal girl can only dream of and there are millions of people out there who would gladly be in their position, regardless of the ‘no dating’ rule. Let’s not pretend everyone is hopeless romantic, falls is love 24/7 and feels as if their life is deprived just because they can’t date until they graduation. It’s not that big of a deal for the average person. Hell, as an idol they’ll improve in confidence, charisma, physical beauty and build the right connections to easily marry an actor, comedian or any other type of charming, famous guy. Let’s not pity them just because they have to wait until they’re ~23 years to land the biggest fish in the ocean while any non-idol wouldn’t even get as much as an interaction with these kind of people. I would even say that by the point they graduate they have developed a better set of criteria and have matured enough to avoid ending up with the wrong kind of guys. I’ve lived in this country and a great many Japanese girls during their teenage years are incredibly naive and end up in ‘bad relationships’ (from their point of view, I assure you the guys had a good time and didn’t have anything long-term in mind to begin with) more so than I have seen in any other country.

    On top of that, the rule makes complete sense. As some westerners keep forgetting since they grew up in an environment where entitled artists such as Bieber can keep pissing on their fans and still remain rich, idols are about the connection between artist and fan. It’s a two-way road; the idol is loved by thousands of fans (and if you do not understand the importance of this than congratz, you are living a privileged life) and gets all her other idol privileges, while the fans receive love from their idols and get the opportunity to interact with them. ‘Love’ and ‘respect’ are the key words here. Idols know their fans crush on them; hell, the entire business model expects people to love them. ‘Love’ is not something one can control and the agencies do everything to invoke that feeling. How disrespectful would it be, from both an idol’s and agency’s point of view, to allow their idols to date and screw guys behind the scenes despite knowing how this information and how much it would hurt the fans? How many fans will be left if Up-Front announces ‘Yeah, we know you genuinely love your oshi, but we’re gonna allow them to date and screw guys with the money you’re giving them if that’s alright!’. It’s not the West where you could pull something disgusting like that.

  20. The one thing that does concern me about the no dating rule is the risk it could push idols into becoming homos. That would be gay.

  21. I can just see Amerika (gen 2 of S/Mileage) going to Manager-san and exclaiming that they read the article, so Manager-san should give them work or else they will get boyfriends. To which, Manager-san replies that they only give work to girls that they are worried that they might get boyfriends.

  22. Well, now I know what to give Henkka for Christmas.

    Btw, Christmas dinner is going to be Tijuana street tacos. I’m just sayin.

  23. This rule has been around the idol world since forever. Before H!P even exists. So if you have problem with it, pretty simple, gtfo! At the end of the day, nobody was forced to do anything. It’s called capitalism. Any idol fan who’s against this is nothing but a hypocrite.

    • > Any idol fan who’s against this is nothing but a hypocrite.
      Because you always have to agree fully with every aspect of something you happen to like. Riiight.

  24. This rule is so misogynist, I love idols and I think they should date who they want, members of boygroups in japan can date and girls no, so wrong, if i was an idol i would disgust these pedo and disturbed wotas.

    • I’m not as familiar with male idols but if that is the case, then yeah, that’s a total double standard and sounds misogynistic as hell.

      And for the people saying “Those are just the rules!!!! Gtfo if you don’t like it!!!!!1″… You really don’t think outside the box much, do you? It’s a big picture thing. Yes, they’re the rules, but rules don’t just poof into existence, nor are they ordained by some cosmological being. They’re decided by other human beings, which means they’re not infallible, nor are they exempt from criticism “just because they’re the rules”. I mean, I can think of a few other “rules” throughout our history that didn’t exactly go over well, and what do you know? They were changed. Crazy, isn’t it?

  25. It’s a simple rule. idol cant go on date. I still don’t understand why people have so much problems with it, especially westerners. I understand that most of them were so young to fully understand what they were getting into when they first joined. But when they do know what they want, those teenagers are not restricted to quit their idol life.

    While most of the people seem to think that it is the company selfishness reflects on their terms, but I just think of these rules as special required work conditions, that exist for other types of work as well. The idols who decided to go on date are however, the selfish ones. They always have a choice for their paths, but decided to keep best of both world and hide it from their fans.

    • Not all westerners do. Its mostly intolerant liberals screeching like poo flinging monkeys about this. Remember, feminists aren’t called feminazis for nothing!

  26. The rule is a cornerstone of the perfect pure girl image so I understand it, but personally I don’t really care if an idol dates. It has it’s advantages in no Enquirer type rumors all the time, but my thing is that since it is a rule, when I find out a girl is dating it just shows me she cares more about the boy than her idol life. It’s like a slap in the face.

    I say, if you’re gonna risk throwing away your work on a boy, don’t half ass it. Either graduate and pursue the relationship or drop him like a pile of bricks.

  27. This is just purely life. You can’t have everything. As simple as Opportunity cost, you have to choose one over something else. It depends on the person which she finds better. Idoling is quite a good bargain; glamour, beauty and good money. Love is indeed beautiful and the most-enriching life experience, but isn’t Idoling quite a unique and wonderful experience in its own rights?

    In the end, one would always long for what he/she doesn’t have. We are just unsatisfied like that.

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