AKB48 Drama

Though the AKB48 juggernaut continues as strong as ever, the 57-member female idol group has hit a few speed bumps in recent weeks.

In the middle of February, the mother of member Minami Takahashi, who is featured in the group’s latest chart-topping single, “Give Me Five,” actually playing guitar, was arrested for allegedly have sex with a 15-year-old boy.

The scandal generated a secondary scandal when one tabloid reported that the mainstream media had essentially buried the story because AKB48 and its management are so powerful right now.

Though anyone with an Internet connection knew about the arrest, major television stations and newspapers hardly covered it and, when they did, avoided using names.

Then, last week, the mayor of the central Japan city of Nagoya mentioned to a group of visiting Chinese that he didn’t believe the Japanese Imperial army raped and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians in Nanjing in 1937, an incident known as the Nanjing Massacre.

Nagoya has a sister city relationship with Nanjing, and the Chinese authorities were offended by the remark.

SKE48, the Nagoya-based franchise group of AKB48, is scheduled to tour China in March and at the moment that tour is at risk of being canceled. Already a judo tournament in Nanjing featuring Japanese athletes has been cancelled over the remarks of the mayor who, despite please from other local politicians, refuses to take back the comment.