Sparks online questions about why she was singled out.
Soon after debuting in 1999, five-member male vocalist unit Arashi began branching out into broader media ventures, such as appearing in McDonald’s ads touting the fast food chain’s “Storm of deliciousness” (arashi being the Japanese word for “storm”). With their faces and songs permeating through the entertainment world, the group quickly ascended to the upper echelons of boy band popularity, and with veteran group SMAP ready to dissolve, stands poised to sit alone atop the throne as the country’s most popular male musical act.
Arashi has been known to inspire extreme displays of adoration from fans, and at first one might think that was the case with Izumi Nakayama, a 25-year-old resident of Kagawa Prefecture. Within a two-year period, Nakayama purchased some 300 Arashi concert tickets, which seems like it must have cost a sizeable chunk of the income she makes as a dog breeder, not necessarily an extremely lucrative line of work.
But Nakayama wasn’t buying all those tickets for herself. She was snatching them up in order to resell them, anticipating that devoted Arashi fans would buy them from her at a premium once the concerts sold out. She was right, as she managed to earn roughly 10 million yen (US$97,100) from her scheme.
However, the authorities have put a stop to all that, as Nakayama was arrested this week on suspicion of violating Japan’s Secondhand Articles Dealer Act.
Ticket resales have recently become a hot topic in Japan, thanks in part to a recent push by recording associations and artists themselves. Just last month a much-publicized poster denouncing scalping, featuring an endorsement from Arashi, was unveiled, and Nakayama’s arrest was applauded online by many of the group’s fans.
▼ “A woman was arrested for reselling Arashi concert tickets. Hopefully this will make them start dealing with this problem more strictly.”
ぴかちゅ (@ZCj83k82xEJgiMK) September 15, 2016
Many of them wondered, though, why Nakayama was arrested even though you can go onto Japanese online auction sites and find plenty of tickets being offered for resale.
The deciding factor seems to be the intent of the original purchase. According to the website of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, there’s no problem if you buy a ticket to use yourself, end up unable to do so due to circumstances, and then resell it. However, that clearly wasn’t the case with Nakayama, who has admitted to the authorities that she intended from the very beginning to resell the tickets.
Even then, the practice of reselling tickets doesn’t seem to be completely banned, as you can find scalping shops, many of which are chains with multiple branches, in just about every major Japanese city. The specific thing that got Nakayama in trouble appears to be that she lacked the proper business license (which chain scalpers supposedly have), as specified by the Secondhand Articles Dealer Act. After all, it’s hard to classify something as anything other than a business venture when you’re pulling in five million yen a year from it.
Granted, it’s hard to believe that all of the tickets being resold online and at licensed dealers were originally bought by people who, at the time of purchase, genuinely wanted to go to the concert. Still, even in law-respecting Japan, the police don’t have time to investigate every idol fan who backed out of seeing a live show because he or she came down with the flu or had to go on a sudden business trip, so had she kept her operation smaller in scale, Nakayama might have been able to continue flying under the radar.
In any case, with the intense fan culture that serves as the foundation for groups like Arashi, there’s always going to be someone who couldn’t obtain a ticket through official channels, but is willing to part with a wad of cash for a scalped one. It’s an extremely complex issue, but this Twitter user has a solution that she thinks could end scalping once and for all.
▼ “Instead of a piece of paper, the ticket should be a 100-kilogram (220-pound) stone…Fans would be willing to carry them if it meant they could see the concert.”
凸原らむ (@top100_274) September 15, 2016
Of course, this would probably just give rise to scalpers who purchase their own delivery trucks, then charge extra for shipping.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he still feels bad that his friend couldn’t find a scalper for Pizzicato Five’s final concert.