A widely popular Japanese pop music star has issued a tearful apology and shaved her head in penance after photos of her leaving the home of a 19-year-old boy band member were published in a tabloid magazine.
While leaving your boyfriend’s place might not seem like such a big deal, it may have spelled the end of a career for Minami Minegishi, who is a member of the all-female group AKB48, which does not allow its members to date.
The group has 90 members who audition through a Japanese-idol type process. Members are also moved in and out of the public eye, depending on popularity, explains an Agence France-Presse report. It also cashes in on promoting its members–who are in their teens and early 20s–as both innocent and sexy, hence the no dating rule.
After the picture of Minegishi was published in the tabloid Shukan Bunshun, the singer appeared in a tearful Youtube apology. She wore a white shirt had shaved off her signature long black hair.
“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,” Minegishi says in the video, which has already been viewed more than four million times.
Minegishi also apologizes to other members of the band, fans, her family and staff: “…what I have done was such a thoughtless and a lack of self-awareness behavior,” she says.
Despite the apology, it looks like Minegishi will be punished for breaking the rules and will be demoted to a trainee team “for causing a nuisance to the fans,” according to AKB48 management.
This isn’t the first time a AKB48 member has tarnished the band’s virginal image. Former band member Tomomi Kasai, 21, created controversy in January after a picture of her naked, with a small child cupping her breasts, was pulled from a magazine.