It’s common knowledge that members of idol girl groups in Japan are often subject to byzantine rules regulating their social lives and free time. In the past, we’ve seen harsh backlash against pop stars who dare to break those rules, as when AKB48’s Minegishi Minami shaved her head following a scandalous overnight stay with a male.
Up until this week, such punishment was limited to the stars themselves, but girl group Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School’s management set a new precedent on September 11 when it was revealed that they are suing two fans who secretly dated two of the group’s members, in addition to seeking reparations from the members involved (who have already left the group in disgrace). The management company also released the full names of the two fans to the public.
It seems that these new measures have crossed a line for netizens, since comments on both Yahoo! Japan and 2ch.net have overwhelmingly sided with the fans who are now being sued. Many also questioned the validity of the contracts that restrict teen idols’ freedom to pursue romantic relationships in the first place. Could this be indicative of changing views of female sexuality in Japanese society?
From Yahoo! Japan:
Management Company Demands Restitution From Fans Who Dated Idols
After allegations that members of a pop idol group secretly dated their fans, it was revealed on September 11 that the management company for the idol group is demanding restitution from the idol group members, the members’ parental guardians, and the fans that they dated.
The group in question is Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School (also known as Mecha High). In April of this year, Yuuki Miho (19) and Miura Sena (22), who were central members at the time, abruptly left the group. At a fan event in Tokyo in August, the producer explained the reason for their withdrawal, saying, “There was a serious contract violation. The two were dating fans,” and he even disclosed the full name of the fans they were dating. What’s more, the management company has sent the fans official notices requesting restitution of 8,232,400 yen [about $77,000].
This is a literally unprecedented situation, but in response to inquiries from Nikkan Sports, the producer said “The parental guardians of the two members signed a contract that included statements such as ‘I won’t be involved in love affairs with fans’ and ‘I won’t abandon my work responsibilities.’ They have betrayed the other members and all of their fans, and that can’t be forgiven.”
Comments from Yahoo! Japan:
Leave it at the members and their parents, I don’t think this applies to the fans.
If it’s the idols and their parents, who specifically signed a contract, then I think we can’t really complain, but the fans didn’t sign any contract… Doesn’t this have nothing to do with them? If they’re fans, of course they feel like they want to get close to the idols and date them… If they had a contract like that with the fans as well, or if the fans knew about the content of the contracts, then the conversation would be different, but…
It’s a business of trends, they’ll use anything if it will get attention and be fodder for gossip.
It was the idols who signed the contract saying “I won’t be involved in love affairs with fans,” not the fans, right?
No matter how you try to force that interpretation, I don’t think it can be said that the fans bear the responsibility for this.
It’s a betrayal of the fans, but who bears the responsibility for the idols who were raised in the spotlight? They want to try demanding restitution, but does that mean they’re trying to say that they aren’t also personally at fault?
Everyone’s writing this, but I’d like to see how they’d deal with the other idols if there were somehow a precedent of not acknowledging the romantic relationship ban itself.
I think everyone would be appalled at the management if they actually forced fans to sign contracts too. I mean, they’re probably not doing that. If they really want to restrict them that much, they should just build a dorm or something and guard them around the clock…
What?? I don’t understand why they’re able to sue the fans because of this. Just get that money from the ones who signed the contract and their parents. They dated despite having signed a contract like that? I guess by that logic, it’s sort of “you reap what you sow” for the fans too, but…
From time to time you hear about the ban on romantic relationships for idols, but… Is this contract itself even valid? That is to say, am I the only one who thinks that a contract like this violates the laws for public order and morals? In a normal employment relationship, you just do your job. Even if it’s normal to have contracts about not being late or maintaining confidentiality, can they really make contracts that go as far as private issues like banning romantic relationships or dating? Falling in love with someone is a matter of feelings, so saying “don’t fall in love” is a strange thing to talk about, too. If they were living normally, when women reach an appropriate age then an attraction to the opposite sex is normal. Of course, in a case like this there was a contract violation so big that they had to leave, so for the women concerned in this matter I think they’ll be liable for an appropriate amount of reparations. But I’m not so sure about demanding that the parents and the people they dated take responsibility, too. When you sign a contract it becomes a legal matter, and everyone concerned is an adult now, so I think the members themselves should bear the liability for reparations, but the question is… Are contracts banning romantic relationships really valid?
Comments from 2ch.net:
What is this, a yakuza whorehouse?
Why are they demanding restitution from fans who didn’t sign a contract or anything?
Does this mean idols = slaves?
The fans haven’t signed any contract. The idols have signed a contract, but can they really sue them for this?
I wonder if this kind of contractual stipulation won’t be found invalid due to “violation of public order and morals.”
There are laws that take precedence over contracts, so stuff like the ban on romantic relationships must be a flagrant human rights violation!
I think this is extortion…
This fucking idiot management company. They’ll probably get sued back for making the fans’ full names public.
Are they trying to break in the idols with punishment?