AKB48 idol Mariko Shinoda has resigned as mayor of Kawaii after Fukuoka’s gender equality commission heard complaints that “cute girls promote sexual discrimination.”
Fukuoka City officially instituted “Kawaii-ku,” a “virtual city district” (ward or “ku”) in August for civic PR purposes, installing 26-year-old Fukuoka born AKB48 idol Mariko Shinoda as its mayor.
Anyone who visited the Kawaii-ku homepage could also register as a “resident” of the fictive district, and as of February it boasted 41,833 inhabitants, with the city mainly hoping to persuade them of the merits of Fukuoka as a tourist destination.
However, in the months after the scheme started the city was bombarded with no less than 4 complaints to the effect that “promoting cute girls encourages sexual discrimination” and “[Kawaii-ku] hinders the independence of women.”
Fukuoka’s mayor passed the matter onto the city’s gender equality commission, and the city’s eventual response was to apologise to Shinoda, saying “it is inexcusable for Miss Shinoda’s image to have been damaged,” and ask her handlers if it would be possible to have her resign.
Shinoda resigned and Fukuoka is now looking for a new mayor of Kawaii – who will presumably have to be ugly and unappealing if the 4 complainants are to be kept happy.
Others criticised its 10 million yen budget as being a waste of their taxes, although they seem to have been ignored, as were those who wondered at the involvement and public subsidy of AKB48 in the first place.
Curiously, the use of both AKB48 and “kawaii” marketing in the Japanese national government’s various hamfisted efforts to promote its “Cool Japan” project internationally have yet to attract similar attention.
Online there has been a predictable outcry amongst Shinoda fans, along with plenty of criticism of their folding to a mere 4 complaints and how they came to be funding such a venture in the first place.
Some suitably discriminatory pictures of Shinoda for those unfamiliar with her – her previous claim to fame is being upset about the sale of her cookies: