The pressure to be perfect turns deadly for celebrities in Japan
Japan Times -- Oct 10
From the outside, Yuko Takeuchi seemed to have a golden life. She had won Japan’s top acting award three times and had recently given birth to her second child. A graceful beauty, she appeared in a box-office favorite last year and advertisements for a top ramen brand.

Takeuchi, 40, died late last month, apparently in a suicide. No one can fully know what private torment might have lurked beneath the surface, but in a Japanese society that values gaman — endurance or self-denial — many feel pressure to hide their personal struggles. The burden is compounded for celebrities whose professional success depends on projecting a flawless ideal.

Takeuchi is the latest in a succession of Japanese film and television stars who have taken their own lives this year. Her death came less than two weeks after the suicide of another actress, Sei Ashina, 36, and two months after Haruma Miura, 30, a popular television actor, was found dead in his home, leaving a suicide note.

Earlier this year, Hana Kimura, a professional wrestler and star of “Terrace House,” a reality show, took her own life after relentless bullying on social media. Aside from Kimura, none of the other celebrities who died in suicides had shown any public signs of emotional distress.

Their deaths have been echoed by an alarming rise in suicides within Japan’s general public during the coronavirus pandemic, after a decade of hard-won decline from some of the highest rates in the world. Authorities reported a nearly 16 percent increase in suicides in August compared with a year earlier, with the number spiking by 74 percent among teenage girls and women in their 20s and 30s.

“As a society, we feel like we cannot show our weaknesses, that we must hold all of it in,” says Yasuyuki Shimizu, director of the Japan Suicide Countermeasures Promotion Center. “It’s not just that people feel like they can’t go to a counselor or a therapist, but many feel like they cannot even show their weaknesses to the people they are close to.”

The reasons for any individual suicide are complex. And many of the strains felt by the Japanese are universal: They, like many others, feel the ruthless demands of social media, where people feel they must cultivate a narrative of eternal success and happiness.

“This can definitely be a cause for spiraling into a depression” if your reality does not match someone else’s curated portrait, Shimizu says.

Even away from social media, the Japanese tend to project a positive public front. There is a strict division between uchi (the home or inside) and soto (outside), with emotions — particularly messy ones — restricted to the private sphere.

People also feel that they must conform to rules and not stand out in ways that could be perceived as burdening others.

News source: Japan Times
Oct 19
Ten members of the Shiki Theatre Company have contracted the novel coronavirus, according to the famed Japanese theatrical company. (Japan Times)
Oct 18
A black bear attacked four people ranging in age from their 50s to 90s and damaged a police car Friday in central Japan before being shot to death, police and other local authorities said. (Japan Today)
Oct 16
Tokyo Metropolitan Police are planning to accuse a deceased man of fatally stabbing his former girlfriend in Nakano Ward earlier this year, reports TBS News (Oct. 14). (tokyoreporter.com)
Oct 16
Saitama Prefectural Police have arrested a 27-year-old man for allegedly kidnapping a girl he met online and holding her for five months, reports Kyodo News (Oct. 15). (tokyoreporter.com)
Oct 16
A man found in a pool of blood on a sidewalk in Chiba City on Wednesday later died, police said, reports Jiji Press (Oct. 15). (tokyoreporter.com)
Oct 15
A 24-year-old woman who was found murdered in her apartment in Kyoto City’s Shimogyo Ward earlier this week died two days before the discovery of her body, police have revealed, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 12). (tokyoreporter.com)
Oct 15
The National Ainu Museum and Park in Shiraoi Town in Hokkaido has observed a traditional ceremony to pay tribute to the ancestors of the indigenous Ainu people. (NHK)
Oct 14
Japan's top court has dismissed a claim by a non-regular worker that her employer should pay her bonuses. (NHK)
Oct 14
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a 36-year-old man over the alleged attempted robbery of a woman in Higashimurayama City earlier this year, reports Fuji News Network (Oct. 13). (tokyoreporter.com)
Oct 14
Miki Nishino, a former member of idol group AKB48, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, her agency revealed on Monday. (tokyoreporter.com)
Oct 14
A patient whose arrival at a hospital was delayed by 16 minutes after the ambulance he was in made a wrong turn on a Tokyo expressway later died, the Tokyo Fire Department said Monday. (Japan Today)
Oct 13
The prefectural government of Niigata issued a special warning about wild bear encounters on Monday, a day after a woman died from injuries sustained in an attack when she was working on a farm earlier in the month. (Japan Today)
Oct 13
It started with a gun and ended with a bang. At just past 7:00 a.m., an officer working off a tip approached a parked vehicle in Seto City. (tokyoreporter.com)
Oct 13
A 24-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in her Kyoto apartment on Sunday, police said Monday. (Japan Today)
Oct 13
Kyohei Tsutsumi, a veteran composer of popular Japanese songs that impacted the country’s music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, has died of aspiration pneumonia, sources close to the matter said Monday. He was 80. (Japan Times)
Oct 12
A main event of a long-running festival usually held in western Japan has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (NHK)
Oct 12
The Imperial Household Agency is considering excavating Daisen Kofun in Osaka Prefecture, the country’s largest ancient burial mound, in a conservation project that could begin around next fall, sources close to the plan said Saturday. (Japan Times)
Oct 10
From the outside, Yuko Takeuchi seemed to have a golden life. She had won Japan’s top acting award three times and had recently given birth to her second child. A graceful beauty, she appeared in a box-office favorite last year and advertisements for a top ramen brand. (Japan Times)
Oct 09
Arashi, a popular Japanese boy band who will suspend their activities next year, will stream a postponed concert on Nov. 3 online, their agency Jonny and Associates Inc. said Thursday. (Kyodo)
Oct 08
A 36-year-old man who fled police during a search of his residence in Date City on Tuesday was captured later that day, police said, reports Nippon News Network (Oct. 6). (tokyoreporter.com)