Where: Modern Japan.
Research: googled variations of japanese + language + illiteracy + celebrities, wiki'd Japanese language
In an old article, I read that the average Japanese student needs 12 years of schooling to learn enough kanji (characters) to get by in daily life. Interesting. Added on to the end of this paragraph:
"Since many Japanese entertainers get famous early, and drop out of school to act or sing, they often cannot read...These people may remain illiterate all of their lives."
I was going to write a short piece about this, except that I don't know any illiterate celebrities. How do they get by in daily life? Do they make any attempt to learn to read? Preferably Japanese, but I'm willing to take Chinese or English if s/he can't read for a reason that isn't medically related (read: Tom Cruise and dyslexia - I heard through the grapevine that his ex-wife Nicole Kidman read his scripts to him).
Just how widespread is the problem - can I assume that any Japanese pop star who made it big as a kid can't read more than 50 kanji?
Links would be most helpful. In English.
* Yes, you may go off-topic. I teach English in rural Taiwan, it's not the quite the same as teaching 40 Japanese teenagers the same topic.