The Japanese government has been trying for years to improve the country’s birth rate by offering subsidies for fertility treatments or making public kindergartens free. But where they’ve failed, the coronavirus seems to be succeeding, at least judging by the number of celebrities who, after close to a year of lockdowns and self-isolation, began announcing that they’re pregnant or have given birth.

Famous People: They’re Just Like Us!

Shakespeare apparently wrote King Lear while self-isolating during an outbreak of the plague, but don’t feel too bad if all you’ve done during the coronavirus pandemic is hang out with your loved ones doing whatever. Japanese celebrities are right there with you, and for the past month, they’ve been sharing proof of that all over social media.


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In early January, Mirin Furukawa of (a female idol group based in Akihabara) announced that she was pregnant. Appropriately, it seems to have happened shortly after the group’s “Family Tour 2020” was canceled due to Covid-19. It’s really been a “blessed” time for many female idols. Furukawa’s announcement was later followed by news that former AKB48 member Sumire Sato AND former Keyakizaka46 member Yui Imaizumi were with child. Before we start looking for connections between musical careers and pregnancy, let’s note that the gravure idol Yuka Kuramochi and actress Tomoko Tabata (Shinsengumi!, Lady Maiko) have also announced their pregnancies this month.

Which means that they’re just a few months behind the actress Rei Kikukawa (Godzilla: Final Wars, Ooku), actress Natsuki Kato (Paradise Kiss, Hana Yori Dango 2), and manga artist/TV personality Britney Hamada, all of whom have given birth in the past month. It’s important to focus on the few good things coming out of this global tragedy.

Japanese Celebrities Discover the Internet

If our calculations are correct, there are now more YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch accounts than there are people on the planet. It’s understandable. What else can you do while staying home all the time trying to not catch Covid? Improve yourself in any way? Don’t be silly. You mess around on the internet, which is what a lot of Japanese celebs have been doing.

For example, earlier this month, popular singer Naotaro Moriyama started his own YouTube channel where he posts videos of himself playing his favorite songs on guitar.

His announcement was soon followed by that of former HKT48 member and actress Rino Sashihara (Majisuka Gakuen) who now is also a proud owner of her very own YouTube channel. Her introductory video, posted on January 1, has since been viewed more than 1.2 million times.

Former SKE48 and Nogizaka46 member Rena Matsui doesn’t yet have those numbers but her YT channel is only two weeks old, so let’s give her some more time to build her audience. If YouTube isn’t really your thing, you can also check out the new Twitter account of actress Nanase Nishino (One Piece: Gold, Asahinagu).

Masato Minami and Katsuhiko Watabiki Pass Away

Some weeks back, it was announced that actor Katsuhiko Watabiki passed away in his sleep on December 30. The cause of death was cancer. Although not a household name, Watabiki’s filmography is very impressive, including many underrated gems like Chushingura 1/47, Diamond, and Where I Belong. He’ll be greatly missed.

Folk singer Masato Minami was another casualty of January 2021. A performer for more than 50 years who liked to travel the world, he died on stage while performing at the Thumbs Up club in Yokohama.

Pop Culture Update Lightning Round

Despite everyone already dealing with a lot these days, stuff continues to happen. And for many, it’s good news ahead. Here are a few of the biggest news from the world of Japanese entertainment:

  • Every year, NHK airs a new historical epic called a taiga drama. It has been announced that the one slated for release in 2023, titled Dosuru Ieyasu and depicting the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu, will star the (now ex-)Arashi member Jun Matsumoto.
  • A new animated SLAM DUNK movie has been announced more than 25 years since the last one hit the theaters. Based on a manga by Takehiko Inoue, SLAM DUNK is one of Japan’s most famous sports comics and anime.
  • Momoiro Clover Z have released a live video of “MOON PRIDE.” Originally used as the ending theme for Sailor Moon Crystal, the video coincides with the recent release of the new Sailor Moon movie: Eternal.