Shūkan Bunshun

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Shūkan Bunshun
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CategoriesNews magazine
Year founded1959
First issueApril 1959
Based inTokyo
LanguageJapanese language

Shūkan Bunshun' is a Japanese [1][2] weekly news magazine based in Tokyo, Japan, noted for its investigative reporting and frequent clashes with the Japanese government.[3] It is considered one of the most influential weekly magazines in the country.[2]

History and profile

Shūkan Bunshun was first published in April 1959.[4] The magazine is part of Bungeishunjū, a publishing group headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo.[4] From October 2014 to September 2015 Shūkan Bunshun was the fourth best selling weekly magazine in Japan with a circulation of 680,296 copies.[5] As a general-news magazine, Shūkan Bunshun's major competitor is the more conservative[2] [6] Shukan Shincho (magazine)|Shukan Shincho.[7]

The magazine has been praised, but also criticized for its investigative reporting which takes on both political scandals, as well as those from the world of entertainment.[3] In the first three months of 2016, "It brought down a minister and a politician, practically destroyed the careers of a popular celebrity and a news commentator and nearly broke up one of Japan's biggest boy bands," reported the BBC [3] which stated that the magazine was "shaking up the cosy media club" in Japan. But the magazine was also widely criticized for its expose of popular J-pop star and producer, Komuro's adultery. "Japanese netizens appear to have turned against Shukan Bunshun and other scandal-baiting publications, at least for the time being," concluded a report in the Japan Times.[8]

Scoops and Controversies

Minami Minegishi

On January 31, 2013, Shukan Bunshun reported that popular AKB48 entertainer Minami Minegishi had spent a night at the apartment home of Alan Shirahama, a member of the boy band Generations from Exile Tribe. As such, she broke a cardinal rule for AKB48 members of no-dating.[9] A few hours later, after her rapid demotion from one of the official members of Umeda Team B to kenkyūsei (trainee) status as of February 1,[10] the AKB48 official channel released a video of Minegishi with her head shaved, offering a tearful apology for her behaviour.[11]. In Japan, cutting one's hair is one way of showing contrition.[9] In the video she repeatedly apologized to her fans for her "thoughtless behavior" and hoped that the management would let her remain with the group.[12]. The punishment and subsequent head-shaving drew negative reactions from media around the world, including Agence France-Presse,[13] CNN,[14] Daily News (New York)|Daily News,[15] The Guardian,[16] American Broadcasting Corporation|ABC,[17] Spiegel Online,[18] Al Jazeera English[19]


In January 2016, popular female TV Television personalities in Japan | tarento, Becky |Becky's reputation dived after Shukan Bunshun revealed that she had an affair with musician Enon Kawatani who at the time was married. Following the scandal, Kawatani announced that he had officially divorced his wife. In order to appease the public backlash and as a condition for her comeback to show business in Japan, Becky tried to officially apologize to Kawatani's wife. However, having no direct channel to her, Becky contacted the Shukan Bunshun's editorial department instead. Shukan Bunshun published the full contents of Becky’s letter at the end of April 2016.[20] As a result of her apologies, Becky was able to make a comeback with an appearance on TBS. In her first appearance back on TV, she appeared on Full Chorus - Music is Full Chorus on the cable channel BS Skyperfect TV.[21] As a result of the expose, Becky lost many of her sponsors and other sources of income.[22] According to some commentators, the sharp difference between the consequences of the affair for her compared to those for Enon, highlights Japan’s double standards for women in the entertainment world.[23]

Sean K

In March 2016, Sean McArdle Kawakami's career as a Japanese news and business commentator came to an abrupt end after Shukan Bunshun revealed a fabricated academic background that included claims of an MBA from the world-famous Harvard Business School, as well as further false claims to have graduated from Temple University and conducted a Study abroad at Pantheon Sorbonne, University of Paris 1.[24]

Alleged vote-buying in Hiroshima

In 2019, shortly after a report published in Shukan Bunshun, alleging that House of Councillors of Japan|House of Councillors's representative Anri Kawai's election office had paid campaign announcers a daily amount that exceeded the permitted legal limit, her husband Katsuyuki Kawai announced his resignation as Minister for Justice on the 30th October, 2019. [25] In the aftermath of the initial article, further revelations followed, that the headquarters of the governing Liberal Democratic Party had transferred an unusually large amount of 150 million yen to the local Hiroshima office, prior to the election. [26]

A list of at least 100 recipients of money, including prefectural and municipal politicians from the Hiroshima prefecture, as well as members of the couple's campaign groups, was found on a computer belonging to Katsuyuki Kawai after a raid on the couple's house and offices. [27] On June 16, 2020, Anri Kawai and her husband, Katsuyuki Kawai, left the Liberal Democratic Party amidst the ongoing allegations of buying votes to aid her campaign for the House of Councilors.[28] They were later arrested by public prosecutors on June 19, 2020 on charges of vote-buying and distributing around 25 million yen to politicans and supporters in Hiroshima[29] in violation of the Public Office Elections Law.[28]

Subsequently, in July 2020, the Hiroshima district and high court ruled that a state-paid secretary to Anri Kawai paid 2.04 million yen in total to 14 members of Kawai's campaign staff between July 19 and 23 2019 during the election to the House of Councillors, an amount which implied payments higher than the legal limit of 15,000 yen per person per day. As a result, the secretary received a punishment of 18 months in prison, suspended for 5 years.[30] In the wake of the conviction, the Hiroshima High Public Prosecutors Office filed a lawsuit to cancel Anri Kawai’s 2019 election victory, on the basis of guilt by association as defined under the Japanese Public Offices Election Law.[31]


In 2001, Shukan Bunshun ran a series on sexual harassment allegations[32] against the creator of Johnny & Associates talent agency, Johnny Kitagawa, along with claims that Kitagawa had allegedly forced boys to drink alcohol and smoke.[33][34][35] Johnny & Associates sued Shukan Bunshun for defamation, and in 2002, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Kitagawa, awarding him in damages.[34][35] In 2003, the fine was lowered to on the basis that the drinking and smoking allegations were defamatory, while the sexual harassment claims were not.[35] Kitagawa filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Japan, but it was rejected in 2004.[36]


  1. J. A. Mangan; Sandra Collins; Gwang Ok (7 December 2018). The Triple Asian Olympics - Asia Rising: The Pursuit of National Identity, International Recognition and Global Esteem. Routledge. pp. 2309–2322. ISBN 9781135714192.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Adam Gamble; Takesato Watanabe (1 July 2004). A Public Betrayed: An Inside Look at Japanese Media Atrocities and Their Warnings to the West. Regnery Pub. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-89526-046-8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "The Japanese magazine shaking up the cosy media club". 21 April 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mark Schreiber (20 February 2016). "Deja vu as Shukan Shincho turns back the clock". The Japan Times. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  5. "10 Most Printed Magazines in Japan, 2015". Hatena Blog. 15 January 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  6. Mark Schreiber (21 October 2017). "Magazines hold their own against TV's 'iron chefs'". Japan Times. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  7. "Tabloid magazine Shukan Shincho alleges rival 'stole' scoop from upcoming ad". Mainichi. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  8. "Shukan Bunshun shoots itself in the foot with Komuro scandal". Japan Times. 27 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "AKB48 pop star shaves head after breaking band rules". BBC News. BBC.
  10. Tokyohive (January 31, 2013). "Minegishi Minami demoted to Kenkyuusei + posts a video message with shaved head". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  11. "Mixed views of AKB member's shaved head and teary apology". Asahi Shinbun. February 2, 2013. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  12. "AKB48 峯岸みなみからのメッセージ / AKB48 (公式)" [Message from Minami Minegishi / AKB48 (Official)]. Tokyo: AKB48. January 31, 2013.
  13. "Japanese pop idol shaves her head in public apology after sex scandal". The Globe and Mail. Agence France-Presse. February 1, 2013.
  14. Shadbolt, Peter (February 5, 2013). "When a teen pop star breaks J-pop 'bushido' code". CNN.
  15. "Japanese pop star shaves her head in shame and begs for forgiveness after spending night with boyfriend". Daily News. February 1, 2013.
  16. McCurry, Justin (February 1, 2013). "Japanese pop star shaves head in apology – for night with boyfriend". The Guardian.
  17. Fujita, Akiko (February 1, 2013). "Pop Star Shaves Head in Remorse for Dating". ABC.
  18. Sonnberger, Heike (February 7, 2013). "Mädchenband AKB48 in Japan: Sängerin rasiert sich aus Reue den Kopf" (in Deutsch). Spiegel Online.
  19. "Japanese singer shaves head after sex scandal". Al Jazeera English. February 2, 2013.
  20. "End of a saga: Becky to return to showbiz; Kawatani divorces wife following scandal". Japan Today. Archived from the original on 24 October 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  21. "Talent Becky officially returns to Japanese TV after affair controversy". Japan Today. Archived from the original on 24 October 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  22. "Becky loses sponsors, regular TV appearances over affair scandal". Japan Today. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  23. "Downfall of Japanese TV's girl next door highlights wider industry sexism". Guardian. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  24. Oi, Mariko (21 April 2016). "The Japanese magazine shaking up the cosy media club". BBC News Online. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  25. "Japan's justice minister to quit over wife's alleged election law breach". Kyodo News. 2019-10-31. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  26. "LDP transferred 150 million yen to candidate now hit by scandal". Asahi Shimbun. 2020-01-24. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  27. "Japan ex-justice minister, wife may have handed $280k to over 100 people in vote buying". The Mainichi. 2020-07-02. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  28. 28.0 28.1
  29. Sugiyama, Satoshi (2020-06-18). "Former top Abe aide and wife arrested in vote-buying scandal". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  30. "Japan lawmaker closer to losing seat over election law violation". The Mainichi. 2020-07-02. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  31. Abe, Shunsuke (2020-07-02). "Aide's conviction will likely lead to loss of Anri's seat in Upper House". The Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  32. Sims, Calvin (2000-01-30). "In Japan, Tarnishing a Star Maker". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  33. McCurry, Justin (2000-04-23). "Japan's star-maker accused of sexually abusing boys". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-01-13.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Campion, Chris (2005-08-21). "J-Pop's dream factory". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Fukue, Natsuko (2009-04-14). "So, you wanna be a Johnny?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  36. West, Mark D. (January 15, 2007). Secrets, Sex, and Spectacle: The Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States. University of Chicago Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-226-89408-9.

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