Japanese pop star Minami Mingishi shaved her head and issued a public apology after getting caught on a date with a man, reports say. The AKB48 member issued a tearful apology to her fans after breaking the popular group’s cardinal rule: No Dating.
Minegishi, sobbing and sporting a roughly-shaved head, told fans that she had decided to shave her head as penance for spending the night with Alan Shirahama. Shirahama is a dancer in an off-shoot of the popular boy band Exile.
AKB48 prides itself with maintaining the “implied availability” of the girls to the public, a facade that Minegishi broke by pairing herself off. The girls in the group — all in their teens and early 20s — signed a no dating contract when they join the group. The popular group has 90 members, all of whom are rotated through the public eyes, based on popularity.
The sobbing Minegishi, 20, told fans that she still wanted to be a part of the group and hoped that her tryst with the 19-year-old dancer could be forgiven.
“I don’t believe just doing this means I can be forgiven for what I did, but the first thing I thought was that I don’t want to quit AKB48,” she says in the video, which had been viewed on YouTube more than three million times.
The tryst was “thoughtless and immature”, she told fans. “If it is possible, I wish from the bottom of my heart to stay in the band. Everything I did is entirely my fault, I am so sorry.”
The members of AKB48 are frequently introduced to their fans, and their public availability is a prized commodity for the group’s sponsors. In return for their celebrity, the members must adhere to strict rules of behavior.
They are allowed to have “one-sided romantic feelings” for a boy but can never progress beyond hinting at their crush. In essence, they must never rob their legions of male fans of the fantasy that they might one day stand a chance with the girl of their dreams.
AKB48’s management office said Minegishi will be demoted to a trainee team as punishment “for causing a nuisance to the fans” with the demotion effective from Friday.
Fans on Japan’s Twitter scene took to the star’s defense, saying that there was nothing wrong with an adult having an adult relationship.
The Japanese pop star’s group makes much of the girls’ innocence, but the band is heavily marketed on its sex appeal. The girls are photographed in skimpy outfits and flirtatious smiles, a living fantasy for every male fan.
In fact, a television commercial in which the girls “seductively passed candy from mouth to mouth” was a huge hit, although it generated complaints from conservatives because of its homoerotic overtones.
In an interview, some of the group’s top members said that if they could be born again, they would want to live as “ordinary girls.”
Shaving one’s head is a traditional punishment or sign of contrition in Japan, although the custom is generally reserved for men and boys.
Do you think these girls should be marketed as sex symbols but punished for something like actually having sex?