Girl group bases style on Nikkei ups and downsBY JUN HONGOMAY 3, 2013edited slightly from:http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/03/national/girl-group-bases-style-on-nikkei-ups-and-downs/#at_pco=cfd-1.0Kanon Mori, Yuki Sakura,Hinako Kuroki and JunAmaki have been followingthe Nikkei 225 stock averageobsessively since PrimeMinister Shinzo Abe tookoffice in December. Theoldest of the foursome isMori, but she is still only 23.The youngest is Kuroki, 16and still in high school. Noneof them are studying for a degree in economics. Instead, the four are members of a newidol group, Machikado Keiki Japan, and stocks play an important part in theirperformances.“We base our costumes on the price of the Nikkei average of the day. For example, whenthe index falls below 10,000 points, we go on stage with really long skirts,” Mori explained.The higher stocks rise, the shorter their dresses get. With the Nikkei index ending above13,000, the four went without skirts altogether on the day of their interview with TheJapan Times, instead wearing only lacy shorts.While some have raised eyebrows over the group’s daring concept, Mori explained thatthey are merely letting the economy take charge of how they dress — mimicking economictrends of the past. The miniskirt boom of the 1960s coincided with Japan’s strongeconomic growth in the era, she pointed out. The disco boom of the late 1980s also sawwomen dancing in short skirts in Tokyo discos as the Nikkei kept breaking record highsuntil the collapse of the bubble economy ended its run above 38,000.Machikado Keiki Japan (roughly translated as Economic Conditions on the Streets ofJapan) released their debut single, “Abeno Mix,” on April 7. It pays homage to Abe’sultraloose economic policies that have been dubbed “Abenomics” by the media.1
“Fix the yen’s appreciation. Quantitative easing. Don’t forget public investment,” a line inthe dance-pop tune goes. “Monetary easing. Construction bonds. Let’s just revise the Bankof Japan Law.”The group’s fans — who not surprisingly are 95 percent male, from high school to their 50s— have special chants that they perform during the song’s interlude.“They yell out economic terms during our concerts, something like Shinzo Abe! Monetarypolicy! Private investment!” Mori said.Sakura, 20, a University of Tokyo student hopes that her group’s concept andperformances, as well as their music, can add to the positive domestic vibe that isbeginning to heat up. Stocks are at their highest in nearly five years after an Abenomics-driven hammering of the yen and a newly compliant BOJ sent investors flocking to surebets in exporters. Abe also still enjoys a high support rate, although he won’t reveal his trueeconomic policies until June.But Sakura warns that much more needs to be done for the public to be able to enjoy thegood economy.“Previous administrations were overly conservative and couldn’t push forward hugechanges. We expect the administration to implement drastic changes that will stimulateindividual spending,” she said“The image I have of the bubble economy in the ’90s . . . is people dancing around andexposing their body,” said 17-year-old Amaki, who was born in 1995, well after the bubbleimploded. “I think Japan needs to seek strong economic growth, but it should besustainable,” she added.Kuroki said she had no interest in economics before joining the group.“But now I know what is going on whenever I check the news,” she said. “The idea ofhaving my skirts getting shorter surprised my mom, but she is very supportive today aboutwhat I do.”Much of Machikado Keiki Japan’s future remains uncertain at this point, just like theeconomy. Members say they could call it quits if the Nikkei reaches a certain level, or if itfalls too low. But as an idol group, their eyes are set on cheering up their fans and maybeeven stimulating the market with their anthem and their performances.“We don’t see AKB48 and other idol groups as our rivals,” Mori said.“If I had to pick our rival, I’d say it is an economic depression.”2
Source citation:“Girl group bases style on Nikkei ups and downs.” Hongo, Jun. The Japan Times. May 3, 2013.http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/03/national/girl-group-bases-style-on-nikkei-ups-and-downs/#at_pco=cfd-1.0Notes from article:What / Who / How★ 16-23 yr. girls’ band Machikado Keiki = “Economic Conditions on the Streets of Japan”)★ singing about econ. /Abe’s “Abenomics” policies --> “Abeno Mix” (pun)★ using econ. phrases in lyrics: “yen appreciation”, “public investment”, etc.★ (even tho they had no interest in econ. until now)★ gimmick => Nikkei stock prices ↑ --> skirt lengths ↑★ some criticism, but doesn’t say whoWhy / Why now?★ want to “cheer up fans” and “maybe even stimulate the market”★ TIMING:★ stock prices => highest since ’08★ Abe => high support! ! => but his Abenomics policies are not clear yet★ (accdng. to band members) mimicking fashion trends assoc. w/ previous economic booms➡ 60s => miniskirts➡ 80s (bubble) => short skirtsMy opinion:★ just a gimmick / a way to make money, taking advantage of the trendiness of “Abenomics”★ seems very silly --> one member said her image of the bubble economy was “people dancingaround and exposing their bodies” --> very shallow, no understanding of what econ. really is
★ Trying to sound smart ( .... how the administrations before this were “overly conservative” )--> what are the repercussions of “talents” saying this ?? Shallow.★ Her mom is really OK w/ this?★ OTOH, anything that gets ppl interesting in news / econ / politics is a good thing?Summary:This article introduces a 4-girl singing group named Machikado Keiki (“Economic Conditions onthe Streets of Japan”), whose ﬁrst single is called “Abeno Mix,” a pun on current PM Abe’s neweconomic policies, which have been called “Abenomics” by the Japanese media.The girls are young (late teens to early 20s) and previously had no interest in economics, buttheir songs include economic terms. The reason they are in the news is because of theirgimmick: they announced that if the Nikkei stock prices go up, so will the length of their skirts.They reasoned that in the past, when the economy was good, fashion changed and women woreshort skirts: it happened in the 60s and again in the disco craze of the 80s. They hope the samething will happen again.Some have criticized their idea, although the article doesn’t say who. However, one member’smother seems to support them.My opinion:It seems like just a silly gimmick to me. It’s a way to make money, taking advantage of the factthat the terms “Abenomics” seems to be very trendy now, even though it seems clear that theymay not really have an understanding of what his economic policy is. But neither do the rest ofus, as the article says that he hasn’t even clariﬁed his policy and won’t until June.When one member criticized previous governments for being “overly conservative”, she may beright, but does she realize how difﬁcult it is for administrations to make signiﬁcant policychanges, especially when there is so much in-ﬁghting? And anyway, I don’t believe their fansreally care about anything except how short their skirts are. They could be singing about catsand dogs, and it probably wouldn’t make much difference. What’s wrong with their parents,though? It feels like they are sexualizing their daughters to make money.On the other hand, if a group like this actually gets anyone interested in learning more aboutAbe’s policies, history, and the current state of the economy, I’ll support them too. I just wish theydidn’t have to make it about sex appeal. Are we really so shallow?
Questions (CQ and RQ)✓ What is “quantitative easing”? What are some examples from the past?✓ What are “construction bonds”?✓ What has Abe actually said in regard to his “Abenomics” policies, and how much is it just themedia putting words in his mouth?✓ What have economics experts said recently about Abenomics?✓ Why is Abe waiting until June to “reveal his true” policies?✓ What does the DJP say about Abenomics?Discussion Questions (DQ)Do you ever talk to your parents about economics? Have they talked about what it was like inthe late 80s / early 90s before the bubble burst?Do you feel like the economy is bad? Good? Getting better or worse? How does it affect yourdaily life?What is your understanding about what “Abenomics” is?Do you like any of the “idol” groups? Who and why?Do you think groups like AKB48 or the K-pop girl bands rely too much on their sexuality? Howabout female singers from other countries? Do they do the same thing? To what end? Andhow about boy bands like Exile?Why do you think the trend in J-pop and K-pop now seems to be multi-member groups?Do you think this group will be a “one hit wonder” or will they have staying power? Will theyinspire a new trend?Do you think a story like this makes Japan look bad or good? If you think it makes Japan lookbad, what would you do to try to change the image for the better?If I were to continue this general topic, what would my next search terms be?- “the 80s economy and fashion”- “the 60s economy and fashion”- “Abenomics details”- “age of consent in Japan / deﬁnition of pornography in Japan”
Vocabulary / Language structuresword / structure found in this context meaning examplesraised eyebrows“While some have raisedeyebrows over thegroup’s daringconcept ...”means that peoplethink it’s strange orinappropriateWhen I told my mother I wasgoing to get my nosepierced, she raised hereyebrows and said, “Overmy dead body!”daring concept (see above)a courageous orunusual or risk-takingideaI was talking to my colleagueabout the idea of changingthe educational system tostop focusing so much ongrammar & translation, andhe said, “It’s a daringconcept, and I don’t think itwill be so easy to change thesystem.”“the ....er (Noun+ Verb), the ....er(Noun + become)”“The higher stocks rise,the shorter their dressesget.”When A happens, thenB also happens.The hotter it gets outside, thecolder the trains become. It’stoo extreme!to play animportant part(with “in”)“...stocks play animportant part in theirperformances.”It’s important / a keypart / vitalI think that communicationshould play an importantpart in language education,but unfortunately, too manyschools just focus onmemorizing grammar,translating, and taking test.pay homage to“It (their single ‘AbenoMix’) pays homage toAbe’s ultraloose economicpolicies that have beendubbed ‘Abenomics’ bythe media.”It means “show respectfor” by namingsomething aftersomeone or doingsomething highlyinﬂuenced by thatperson. / To dedicatesomething to someoneIn Obama’s 2008 acceptancespeech, he paid homage toMLK because his electionshowed that MLK’s “dream”had, in part, come true.