Japan

J-pop star wins right to have boyfriend in landmark ruling

AKB48-J-pop Popular Japanese pop group AKB48 perform at Japan Expo in Paris in 2009 | via Commons

Her agency had sued her for violating a 'no dating' clause in her contract

  • Association with the opposite sex is part of the pursuit of happiness. Even taking into account the unique circumstances of being an idol, prohibiting such associations is going too far—Judge Kotsuya Hara

A Japanese court has thrown out a “no dating” clause in a contract of a pop music agency, after the latter sued a 23-year-old female singer for violating it by having a relationship.

Terming her relationship as “pursuit of (her) happiness”, Judge Kotsuya Hara said prohibiting such associations was going too far.

In 2012, the singer, whose name was not disclosed, signed a contract with the agency (name withheld), including a clause that said “if performers are found to be dating a fan, they will be sued for damages”. The clause was there to force the singers to stay single so as not to shatter the dreams of fans.

However, she fell for one of her fans and the agency sued her for 9.9 million yen (around Rs 58 lakh).

The court's decision last week is a morale-booster for female performers in the country, where “no dating" clauses are a standard practice in the fiercely competitive pop industry.

"We have to admit that forbidding pop idols to date by claiming compensation for damage goes too far," the judge said in his ruling, according to a report.

“The enrichment of one’s life that comes from association with the opposite sex is covered under the right of self-determination.

“Association with the opposite sex is part of the pursuit of happiness. Even taking into account the unique circumstances of being an idol, prohibiting such associations is going too far.”

Another unnamed 17-year-old singer was last year ordered to pay 650,000 yen for violating the rule.

Recently, Minami Minegishi, a member of pop group AKB48, shocked fans by shaving her head and then posting a tearful apology for violating her group’s dating ban by spending the night with her boyfriend.

"As a senior member of the group, it is my responsibility to be a role model for younger members," Minami said in the video.

"Everything I did is entirely my fault. I am so sorry.

"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."

Watch her apology below:

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The Week

Topics : #Japan

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