A commercial showing members of wildly popular all-girl band AKB48 passing bite-sized candies seductively from mouth-to-mouth is under fire in Japan for encouraging homosexuality.
The advertisement, which aired in March, shows the school uniform-clad young women — all in their late teens or early 20s — intimately exchanging the sweet, with the close-up footage slowing as their lips near.
A broadcasting standards watchdog said Thursday the majority of the 116 complaints it had received in March about commercials concerning young people related to this advert.
AKB48, one of the world’s highest grossing acts with more than $200 million in CD and DVD sales last year, have become a phenomenon in Japan and other parts of Asia over recent years.
With a total of around 90 all-female performers, ranging in age from early teens to mid-20s, their bubblegum pop and synchronised dancing has proved a huge hit with pre-pubescent girls.
Running the gamut from girl-next-door to sultry temptress, the band also has a substantial male following — many of whom are older — who support a vast merchandising industry.
A spokesman for UHA Mikakuto Co. which makes the sweets, said the reaction to the TV ad, which aired for 10 days to March 25, had been mixed.
The commercial and a “making of” video, can be seen on the UHA Mikakuto’s website at www.akb48cho.jp/cm/index.html