A member of AKB48, one of the most popular girl bands in Japan, has just had her hair close-cropped in penance for her ‘overnight stay’ with a guy. Is this right to forbid a woman in her twenties to develop her own romantic relationships? Is it inevitable if she wants success as a pop idols? Is this public embarrassment or an appropriate punishment for breaking a contract? Or, thinking more cynically, is this just a ploy to keep the band in the news after the recent corporal punishment case at an Osaka high school?
The video of Minegishi’s apology has already been viewed over 4,000,000 times, and regardless of the reason for her drastic haircut, the issue certainly raises questions about women’s sexual freedom in Japanese society.
From Yahoo! Japan:
AKB48′s Minegishi Minami (20):’Overnight Stay’ at a Young Dancer’s Place Reported by Weekly Magazine, Minegishi Apologises on YouTube on January 31
Appearing in the video with close-cropped hair, Minegishi says in a tearful voice: ‘I am sorry for all the troubles I’ve caused you — members, fans, staff and family. As one of the first members who joined the group, I should have been a role model for the other girls who joined after me, but what I’ve actually done was careless and thoughtless.’ She also explained why she’d had her hair cropped, saying: ‘My mind went blank, didn’t know what I could do, but I couldn’t bear do nothing once I saw my scandal published a weekly magazine, so I decided to have my hair close-cropped without talking about it with anyone’. She tearfully continued: ‘I know it’s naive of me but I don’t want to quit AKB48. It’s all my fault. I am terribly sorry,’ then bowed deeply.
Furthermore, the manager of AKB48′s theatre announced on their official blog that Minegishi will be she’s going to be demoted in rank down to a trainee on February 1.
The story of Minegishi’s ‘overnight stay’ was published on January 31 by Shukan Bunshun. According to the magazine, she stayed at the dancer’s place in Setagaya ward on the night of January 17. Her partner was Shirahama Aran (19), a dancer from ‘GENERATIONS’, who are a younger version of ‘EXILE’. They first met in autumn 2011 when both were performing the play ‘If you were…’
Since all romantic relationships are forbidden in the group, she showed her contrition by having her hair close-cropped.
The video in which Minegishi makes her apology, and explains that she shaved her hair off to show how sorry she was for breaking the rules of the band:
Comments from 2ch.net:
Isn’t this culture of accepting an apology if someone shaves off their hair a bit weird? Especially when there are some people nowadays who do it themselves for the sake of fashion.
Wow, that really is close-cropped w Still, she’s minging.
Akimoto (AKB48 manager): ‘doing something like this would save her from her criticism (with a smirk)’
Ha, sacked or not sacked, surely she’d have her hair cut this much.
Nothing left if not in AKB.
YouTube is international, a Japanese shame to the world.
It’s just like a girl being a hostage of terrorists and apologising or something.
It’s abuse of human rights not to allow them to have their own romantic relationships I reckon?
They still can’t moan, otherwise they’d be sacked.
Total power harassment preying on the weak, sick eugh.
Fingers crossed Akimoto is going to be punished!
Is this what she gets in return for a quick shag?
Comments from Itai News:
Gross wwwwwww Turns me off.
The physical punishment at Sakuranomiya high school has been such a big thing in papers and now she’s shaved her head?(゜д゜)
Close-cropped hair now? SO timely, well setup, AKB is such a business.
Straight after the Judo thing at high school? That’d give the world the strong impression that Japan ignores women’s human rights w.
Let’s spread this around the world and see how they feel about it. Westerners would definitely find it weird.
She’s 20, she only shagged a guy, she didn’t have to shave her head. Surely she’d have kept shagging him if it hadn’t been revealed by the media.
Awful. It’s just abuse, isn’t it? Does this make her fans any happy?
It suits her. Better looking now.
What about telly? Can she still make appearances?
They’re more like a religious organisation now w
It’s going way too far to make her do this.
This is a human rights matter now. The Japanese media is bloody useless and I don’t suppose they can’t recognise what they’ve done or atone for it until they get forced to by external pressure.