Some of you may be wondering: what the hell does all this matter? Are you just using this as an excuse to post pictures of chicks?
But in all actuality, this incident is revealing of all sorts of pernicious elements in Japanese society. Let me recount some key events :
It was the concerted effort of 2ch that made this the scandal that it became. 2ch users sent “more than 200 e-mails” calling for the girl’s arrest and punishment. I find this tactic extremely distasteful because it reminds me of the US’ Religious Right complaining about supposed indecency on American TV.
In cases of robbery in Japan, the perpetrator must either be caught red-handed, confess directly to the police, or the victim has to file charges. None of this happened — the girl only admitted to it on TV.
The point of Coming Doubt is for a panel of celebrities to guess whether a purported story about the contestant, another celebrity, is true or not. Presumably, the contestants do not know beforehand what story they will be forced to confirm or deny. So it is highly likely that Abiru herself did not know that they would bring up her criminal history.
The peculiar nature of these reality-style shows makes the case of Abiru Yuu very difficult for the layperson. Was there really a robbery, or was this all made up for TV? Or maybe there was a robbery, but Abiru fudged all the details? As soon as the scandal hit everyone reverted to cover-your-ass mode, so unless there’s some sort of formal trial, we’ll probably never know.
So, all in all, should this girl’s career have to end because news of a childhood misdeed made it on national television? I am inclined to say no.
There is an ugly tendency in Japan to condemn people for life (人生をパーにする）at the slightest misstep. For example, it’s not uncommon to see “restructured” workers working as taxi drivers because no one will hire them. Any kind of checkered past can make one unsuitable for marriage (such as a murderer, Korean, or 部落 in the family). And criminals are branded for life, relegated to working at menial tasks forever. Japan is considered to be a 足を引っ張る社会 “A society that holds people back” but why does it have to be that way? Is reform truly impossible?