Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Japanese pop star shaves head over forbidden boyfriend

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TOKYO -- A member of a hugely popular Japanese girl band has shaved her head and issued a tearful videotaped apology for violating the megagroup's no-dating rule.

The spectacle has sparked debate in Japan over whether the band AKB48 exerts too much control over its performers.

Minami Minegishi made the video, posted on AKB48's website, after the 20-year-old was caught by a gossip magazine coming out of her boyfriend's apartment.

AKB48 says it forbids its members from dating to project a clean image and signal their devotion to the group and their mostly male fans.

The band is made up of more than 90 teenage girls and young women divided into several teams. Minegishi belonged to the most prestigious team but her manager said she will be demoted to "research student" status.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 6, 2013 D2

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