The Takeshita-doori incident: Hey! Say! JUMP mysteriously becomes AKB48

The Takeshita-doori incident: Hey! Say! JUMP mysteriously becomes AKB48

After the Harajuku crushing incident last week, we question why the Japanese media bizarrely changed reports on which idol group was the cause
takeshita-doori incident
Sadly, Takeshita-doori is impenetrably crowded even on days where there is not mass panic and crushing injuries. (Photo by Flickr user yto)

On the afternoon of March 26, Takeshita-doori in Harajuku -- Tokyo's famed teen shopping street -- was the scene of a mass panic and crushing incident. Thousands of teenyboppers had congregated in the area after apparently being fed rumors that an idol group would be performing that afternoon. After things got out of hand and devolved into full-out stampede, four girls were hospitalized from injuries. (See a birds-eye view video of the chaos here.)

So which idol group caused such a frenzy? This is where everything gets interesting.

Initially, MSN, Yomiuri and various Internet sources reported that the panic came from rumors that Johnny's Jimusho male idol group Hey! Say! JUMP would be doing a 'guerrilla concert' on Takeshita-doori. The MSN article notes that police actually made a public announcement when things got out of hand to say: "Hey! Say! JUMP are not here."

By the time the evening news chimed in however, the story had changed. Monthly magazine "Cyzo" reports that MSN soon scrapped all references to Hey! Say! JUMP and changed the rumored idol group to AKB48 -- a collective of otaku-friendly women usually based across the city in Akihabara. No reason was given, and MSN did not even mention that the reports had changed.

So why and how did Hey! Say! JUMP magically transmogrify into AKB48? There are only two viable possibilities. Either MSN, Yomiuri and all the other sources were wrong in their initial reports, or there's something far more sinister afoot in the world of idol reportage.

Let's just debunk the former first. On top of the fact that almost no one mentioned AKB48 in the initial Twitter reportage, Hey! Say! JUMP just fits the bill better for mass panic causers amongst young girls in Harajuku. The Takeshita-doori area is already famous for its long lines of young women who line up outside the official Johnny's Jimusho store and buy pics of the Johnny's talents at "idol shops." To claim these girls were here to see AKB48 is like saying people make a pilgrimage to Mecca to worship St. Paul.

"Cyzo" further cites a fan of Hey! Say! JUMP, who believed the reports about a secret live show since they tied into a high school volleyball tournament that was being held at nearby Yoyogi National Gynasium. The fan claims the rumors were plausible since Hey! Say! JUMP has been used in promotional activities for that particular volleyball tournament. 

So that leaves us with the easier explanation of bizarre media censorship. We don't want to put two and two together here, but it's worth noting that Hey! Say! JUMP's handler Johnny's Jimusho has been long known for its heavy handed treatment of the Japanese press, causing the media to self-censor stories that may damage the reputation of Johnny's talents. It is not inconceivable therefore, that there has been a little extra-curricular editing post-publish. 

Unfortunately this whole story descends quickly into rumors about rumors, so we doubt there will be much follow-up. But next time Hey! Say! JUMP's new single does very poorly on the charts, expect the news to change that it was actually AKB48's new single that did so badly.