Japanese popstar shaves off head over sex with man

ANI
2 February 2013

Melbourne, Feb 2 (ANI): Fans have defended a Japanese popstar's decision to shave off her head in an act of "disgusting" penance for a night with a man.

Pictures of the roughly-shorn head of Minami Minegishi, 20, were emblazoned on national newspapers and Japan's Twitter scene was abuzz over news that the pop princess from cash-generating juggernaut AKB48 had broken the band's cardinal rule: No Dating.

A sobbing Minegishi told fans she had decided to shave her head in contrition after a popular weekly magazine published claims of a night of passion with a 19-year-old boy band member.

"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," News.com.au quoted her as saying in the video, which had been viewed on YouTube more than three million times.

Minegishi, who had long, silky hair at the time, was snapped leaving the apartment of Alan Shirahama, a dancer in an off-shoot of the popular boy band Exile.

Tabloid magazine Shukan Bunshun published its article Thursday, and hours later Minegishi was pleading to be allowed to remain with AKB48, one of the world's most successful acts by revenue.

The tryst was "thoughtless and immature", she told fans.

AKB48, a 90-strong pool of girls in their teens and early 20s, is a money-printing machine that makes much of the accessibility - and the implied availability - of its idols.

Fans have frequent opportunities to meet their favourites, who are rotated in and out of the public eye, according to popularity.

In return for their chance to grace television screens, subway adverts and the covers of Japan's countless celebrity magazines, members of the collective must adhere to strict rules of behaviour.

They are allowed to have "one-sided romantic feelings" for a boy but can never progress beyond hinting at their crush - and must never disabuse their legions of male fans that they might one day stand a chance with their fantasy woman.

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.

But many of those fans took to Twitter to defend the star, saying there was nothing wrong with an adult woman leading a "normal life".

Author and critic Hiroki Azuma said it was "disgusting" that Minegishi had been pressured to the extent where she had to resort to medieval means to make amends for a perfectly normal romance. (ANI)

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