As queer as Japan’s entertainment industry goes, AKB48 member Minegishi Minami shaved her head as an act of apology to her fans and management due to a recent sex scandal.
As far as Japanese society’s rules go, the act of girls shaving their heads as an act of apology is nothing new. Young girls are usually made to shave their heads by their families to signify their sense of guilt and acknowledge the shame the girls put onto their family.
For Minegishi’s case, the shame she brought upon would be to her idol management as well as the rest of AKB48’s members, as Japanese idols often had to sign contracts dictating that they are not allowed to have romantic relationships.
Fans of such Japanese idols often fantasize about their favourite idols, as such having such idols ‘untouched’ romantically (apart from segments done on variety shows or TV dramas and movies) would further drive the hardcore fans to continue to support the idols by purchasing tons of CDs and merchandise. When Minegishi was involved in the scandal, fans were angered and demand apology for ‘cheating’ them.
To allay her fans and the management Minegishi took matters in her own hands through shaving her head bald. Her management has released the following statement in reply to the publication Shunkan Shinbun that released Minegishi’s scandal article and photos:
This is regarding Minami Minegishi’s scandal that was reported on a weekly magazine that was released today. We decided what her punishment will be and so, I want to take this opportunity to inform the fans about it.
We had decided to demote Minami Minegishi to become a member of team Trainee as her punishment for causing nuisance to the fans because of this scandal. This demotion will take effect on February 1, 2013.
Moreover, we will give more information about her schedule as soon as details have been decided.
This is a sudden announcement, and I apologize to all the fans. Please keep giving your support to AKB48.
AKB48 Theater General Manager, Tomonobu Togasaki
Minami Minegishi has a message to the fans, and you can watch it on AKB48’s Official YouTube Channel.
The following is a translation of Minegishi’s statement:
I’m Minegishi Minami from Umeda team B of AKB48.
I’m very sorry to have caused enormous worry to members, fans, staffs, my families and a lot of other people with the article in the weekly magaizne that is published today.
As the 1st generation member of AKB48, the group that has formed in 2005, it’s my responsibility to always behave as a good role model to juniors. I deeply regret what I did this time. It was a thoughtless deed and I was completely lacking self-awareness as a senior member.
My brain blanked out and I’m still unable to figure out what to do, what I can do. But after I saw the magazine a little ago, I couldn’t help but doing something. And I decided to shave my head without consulting any member or staff at my agency.
Although I don’t think I would be forgiven by doing this, the first thing that I went through my head was that “I don’t want to leave AKB48.”
This is a place where my dear members, who I spent my blossom of youth together, are. And it’s unimaginable to even think about leaving the group where I’m with so many wonderful and sweet fans.
I understand it’s wishful thinking, but if it’s possible, I would like to still be AKB48′s Minegishi Minami.
This is all my fault.
I’m truly sorry.
I will leave my hereafter to the hands of Akimoto-sensei and management.
Though I haven’t been able to tidy my mind up, but I just wanted to tell my current feeling to you.
Thank you so much for listening to me.
Despite shaving her hair and being demoted, there might be a chance where fans are still not satisfied. The sad fact is that by shaving, Minegishi unknowingly devalued herself as an idol despite wanting to continue to be one in her statement.
It is unfortunate that young girls who wish to continue as idols but wish to be engaged in a romantic relationship are unable to do so due to the pressures of the Japanese idol industry.