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Ex-Morning Musume star Ai Kago blazing a trail back to top (using a cigarette lighter)

Ai Kago
Ai Kago

Sacked in disgrace for being caught smoking while underage -- only cigarettes, mind you -- fallen idol Ai Kago stunned Japan's entertainment world watchers with a revealing interview announcing her comeback, and Asahi Geino (4/24) says that's not all she might be about to reveal.

Kago's talent agency fired her in spring last year when the paparazzi caught her on camera for the third time as she puffed away on a cigarette, even though she hadn't reached the legal age for smoking of 20.

Fickle though it seems compared to the antics of some young stars in Hollywood, that's the reality facing young celebrities in Japan's hypersensitive entertainment world, where image is absolutely everything.

It seemed the now 20-year-old former Morning Musume starlet's career was over when she was fired, but she suddenly reappeared before the media last week and announced in a series of "exclusive" interviews with magazines and TV shows that she intends to get back into the thick of things.

Ai Kago
Ai Kago

"Her talent agency dumped her in March last year after she was caught smoking for the third time. The second time she was caught, she was still in a probation period after being caught the first time. And she was spotted on a dirty weekend trip to a hot spring resort with a boyfriend 18 years her senior," an entertainment beat reporter tells Asahi Geino.

Kago's axing heralded a tumultuous year for her. During her tell-all interviews last week, she let it be known that since her dismissal her parents have divorced, and worries about her future prompted self-mutilation and several suicide attempts. She also unveiled her hopes for the future.

"I want to use the experience I have of the entertainment industry to get back into the business, but this time as an actress," the weekly quotes the former singer as saying.

Kago's exposure of some of the more intimate details of her recent life may not be all she's prepared to reveal. Murmurs she will ease her re-entry into the business by stripping off for the cameras are growing louder.

Masaru Nashimoto, doyen of Japanese entertainment beat reporters, denies the rumors, though.

Asahi Geino (4/24)
Asahi Geino (4/24)

"Actually, she's been in negotiations with a respectable talent agency called R&A Promotions since the beginning of this month," Nashimoto tells Asahi Geino. "There's no possibility of her doing a nude shoot. She's grown up a lot recently and is much more mature than she used to be."

Another talent agency associate says Kago's return will be on the silver screen and much quicker than most expect.

"It hasn't gone public yet, but she's already done a deal for a movie," the agency associate tells Asahi Geino. "One of the reasons why she did all those interviews last week was to serve as a buffer for her comeback. She got all the hullabaloo about her return out of the way and now there isn't anything to distract from the announcement of her movie appearance. The announcement of the movie could even come as early as this week." (By Ryann Connell)

(Mainichi Japan) April 18, 2008


WaiWai stories are transcriptions of articles that originally appeared in Japanese language publications. The Mainichi Daily News cannot be held responsible for the contents of the original articles, nor does it guarantee their accuracy. Views expressed in the WaiWai column are not necessarily those held by the Mainichi Daily News or the Mainichi Newspapers Co. WaiWai © Mainichi Newspapers Co. 1989-2007.

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