Wardrobe malfunction strikes Japan

Thomas Lifson
The New Year holiday is the major celebration on the Japanese calendar. Unlike the Chinese, who celebrate the Lunar New Year, Japan adopted the western calendar thru-and-thru, and so on January 1st, the nation virtually shuts down for two or three days. Families may visit a Shinto shrine, perhaps, but most people hang out with their family and friends, and enjoy various traditional foods. Sake is often involved.

New Year's Eve sees the most popular television program of the year broadcast: The "Red-White Singing Contest", with two teams, representing Eastern Japan and Western Japan, competing to see who can sing best. Lavish production numbers are the norm, and the most popular singers consider it essential to be invited. The show is broadcast on NHK, the Japanese version of the BBC, and when I lived in Japan roughly 70 percent of the population watched it at home with their family. It was a chance for Granny to talk with the kids about the latest in pop culture, in many households. A genuine yearly ritual. It is quite similar in some ways to our annual Super Bowl broadcast: a major showcase, minus the commercials.

The divide between East and West in Japan is the single most significant cultural and historic rivalry, and it still carries a lot of juice, as it were. In fact, the two parts of Japan have different electric current standards, 50 Hz and 60 Hz AC, so that if one moves from Tokyo to Osaka, you need to have your appliances adjusted.

So much for "homogeneous Japan."

NHK, for whom I used to work as a news editor and also on-air, is a rather prim and proper organization, certainly compared to the more raucous private TV networks. At times I encountered frustration over what could and couldn't be broadcast on NHK air. As a government organization, it was highly sensitive to criticism, and if a politician complained over something, it got major  management attention. "We can't do that because we are NHK" is a refrain I heard more than once.

I was therefore highly amused this morning to read about the rather mild version of a wardrobe malfunction which afflicted last night's Red-White broadcast. It seems that during one production number, some dancers wore body suits and bikini bottoms. Via Reuters: 
The dancers, who all appeared to be topless and wore skimpy bikini-style bottoms and feathered head-dresses, covered the stage during a performance by singer DJ OZMA, prompting about 250 viewers to phone in and complain.

"The dancers were wearing body suits, but we apologize for any misunderstanding," a presenter announced.
This happened while the broadcast was underway, mind you, in response to phone calls.

I suspect it is going to be a very glum holiday for a number of people who work at NHK. And I also expect that Fuji Television, Asahi Broadcasting, and the other private networks are going to be featuring a few body suits on their dancers.

Hat tip: Drudge
The New Year holiday is the major celebration on the Japanese calendar. Unlike the Chinese, who celebrate the Lunar New Year, Japan adopted the western calendar thru-and-thru, and so on January 1st, the nation virtually shuts down for two or three days. Families may visit a Shinto shrine, perhaps, but most people hang out with their family and friends, and enjoy various traditional foods. Sake is often involved.

New Year's Eve sees the most popular television program of the year broadcast: The "Red-White Singing Contest", with two teams, representing Eastern Japan and Western Japan, competing to see who can sing best. Lavish production numbers are the norm, and the most popular singers consider it essential to be invited. The show is broadcast on NHK, the Japanese version of the BBC, and when I lived in Japan roughly 70 percent of the population watched it at home with their family. It was a chance for Granny to talk with the kids about the latest in pop culture, in many households. A genuine yearly ritual. It is quite similar in some ways to our annual Super Bowl broadcast: a major showcase, minus the commercials.

The divide between East and West in Japan is the single most significant cultural and historic rivalry, and it still carries a lot of juice, as it were. In fact, the two parts of Japan have different electric current standards, 50 Hz and 60 Hz AC, so that if one moves from Tokyo to Osaka, you need to have your appliances adjusted.

So much for "homogeneous Japan."

NHK, for whom I used to work as a news editor and also on-air, is a rather prim and proper organization, certainly compared to the more raucous private TV networks. At times I encountered frustration over what could and couldn't be broadcast on NHK air. As a government organization, it was highly sensitive to criticism, and if a politician complained over something, it got major  management attention. "We can't do that because we are NHK" is a refrain I heard more than once.

I was therefore highly amused this morning to read about the rather mild version of a wardrobe malfunction which afflicted last night's Red-White broadcast. It seems that during one production number, some dancers wore body suits and bikini bottoms. Via Reuters: 
The dancers, who all appeared to be topless and wore skimpy bikini-style bottoms and feathered head-dresses, covered the stage during a performance by singer DJ OZMA, prompting about 250 viewers to phone in and complain.

"The dancers were wearing body suits, but we apologize for any misunderstanding," a presenter announced.
This happened while the broadcast was underway, mind you, in response to phone calls.

I suspect it is going to be a very glum holiday for a number of people who work at NHK. And I also expect that Fuji Television, Asahi Broadcasting, and the other private networks are going to be featuring a few body suits on their dancers.

Hat tip: Drudge