Female junior high and high school students are crazy about this dangerous “guessing game”

Japan News

A new service business has emerged in Tokyo and other downtown areas, allowing customers to chat and take pictures with male idols who are not associated with major entertainment agencies and café staff. This service is gaining momentum, particularly among junior high and high school girls who want to create their own “guesses” and support them. Some girls have become so absorbed in the service that they have spent millions of yen. So, what is it about this service that attracts these girls? We have explored the reality of the “guessing game” and its potential dangers.

Male idols who perform at small venues and are not associated with major entertainment agencies are known as “men’s underground idols.”

On a weekend afternoon at a live house in Kichijoji, Tokyo, about 50 women in their teens and early twenties were sitting on the ground, chatting. At a little past 3 p.m., the venue went dark, and five members entered. The girls stood up and waved colorful penlights. The idols looked at each customer as if they were singing to them. One of the women even hugged the customer next to her in excitement.

After the one-and-a-half-hour concert, women lined up at the “ticket booth.” The tickets cost 1,000 yen each and allow a few seconds to take a picture alone with the idol they support. Some girls buy multiple tickets and use the time to chat with their “guesses.” However, it has come to light that some fans ask the idol to kiss or touch them during the photo shoot.

In Tokyo and other downtown areas, there is a new service business gaining popularity that allows customers to chat and take pictures with non-major male idols and café staff. This service is especially appealing to junior high and high school girls who want to create their own “guesses” and cheer them on. Some girls have spent millions of yen, absorbed in the service. These male idols who repeatedly perform at small venues are called “men’s underground idols”.

At live houses in Kichijoji, Tokyo, women in their teens and early twenties attend shows, and after the concert, they buy tickets for a few seconds to take a picture alone with their supported idol. Some girls buy multiple tickets and use the time to chat with their “guesses”. A points system is also in place, where customers earn points for every ticket purchased or every show attended. Once enough points are accumulated, customers are rewarded with privileges like “out-of-store dates” and “letter-writing”. Another similar business is the “men’s concept café”, where young men called “cast members” serve customers according to a specific concept. Points are issued according to the amount of money spent by customers, and once a certain amount of points have been accumulated, customers are rewarded with privileges like “out-of-store dates” and “letter-writing”.

Unfortunately, there have been recent incidents related to men-underground groups and their fans. In January 2023, a 25-year-old man who was a member of a men-underground group was arrested for indecent behavior towards a 15-year-old female high school student who was his fan. The girl reported that she had spent 3 million yen on photo shoots and other expenses related to the group.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has received many inquiries from concerned guardians of girls who are fans of men-underground or men-con groups. These inquiries often relate to the girls spending large amounts of money on these groups or engaging in aid dating. One junior high school girl even became a victim of having indecent videos filmed and sold by customers when she engaged in a dating service, all because she didn’t want to lose to other girls who were into the same idol.

It’s important to be aware of the potential dangers of these types of services and to prioritize one’s own safety and well-being over the desire to be a part of a particular fandom.

It is illegal for businesses like menkyo and menkon to engage in activities that violate the law, such as providing entertainment to underage customers or engaging in indecent behavior with customers. The Entertainment Establishments Control Law also requires these businesses to obtain a permit from the Prefectural Public Safety Commission and adhere to restrictions on entry of persons under 18 years of age and late-night business hours.

However, there have been cases where these businesses operate without proper permits or engage in illegal activities. In 2011, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested two people, including the manager of a store in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, on suspicion of operating an unlicensed business. Some businesses may try to avoid detection by disguising their activities or being more cautious with their operations.

It is important for guardians and authorities to monitor and regulate these businesses to ensure the safety and well-being of their customers, particularly young girls who may be vulnerable to exploitation or dangerous situations.

They were also caught on suspicion of providing alcohol to minors. In April 2011, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested two men, including a 41-year-old man who ran a men-concert “NA Cafe” in Kabukicho. The two men had a 17-year-old girl order a bottle of champagne priced at 300,000 yen, and the cast members sometimes offered alcohol to minors.

In September 2010, NA Cafe obtained a business license under the Entertainment Establishments Control Law, which restricts the entry of persons under the age of 18, but at the time of the incident, 80% of its profits were believed to have come from underage customers. The former cast member, 22, who was arrested in January, had spent approximately 500,000 yen by encouraging a 17-year-old girl to become an idol by saying, “If you spend more money, you can become an idol.

Regarding the men’s underground, a senior investigator lamented that “it is difficult to crack down on the activity itself because it is not regulated by the Entertainment Establishments Control Law,” and called for measures such as setting an age limit for admission and requiring that the children be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

I force myself to spend money because I want to please and be praised by my ‘guesses.'”

Jun Tachibana, representative of the BOND Project, a non-profit organization that supports young women, analyzes the psychology of girls who get into the “guessing game,” and then says, “Younger children are more likely to get involved. Since it is easier to earn money through aiding girls, the cast members tend to be more extreme.

Since establishing the BOND Project in 2009, Ms. Tachibana has listened to the voices of many girls who have no place at home or school by talking to them on the streets and providing counseling. There are many girls who say, ‘I want you to listen to me. Even if the relationship is that of shopkeeper and customer, some children take kind words as a sign of concern,” she says.

On the other hand, “few children can honestly talk to their parents about their concerns,” says Ms. Tachibana. “We would like to increase the number of places where they can talk to their parents when they feel lonely at home or at school. In order to prevent girls from becoming involved in “guessing games” and falling victim to them, she says she will continue to focus on creating a place for them to stay.