[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlzrIgacADU]

A member of the immensely popular Japanese pop group AKB48 named Minami Minegishi has staged a tearful public apology after soiling the group’s honor with her behavior. Her terrible crime? Getting caught leaving a boy’s house in the morning by the paparazzi. They don’t even know if she went all the way. And you thought American teen pop stars had it hard! (Actually, you probably didn’t.)

In penance for her crimes, poor Minami has shaved her head and posted an apology video to Youtube (above). Here’s what she is saying in it:

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.

(Deep Bow)

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.

That’s some serious Scarlet Letter shit, no?

For her crimes, the band’s management has demoted her to a junior member of the group, which they run with the iron fist of the gulag. Seemingly modeled after Joseph Stalin‘s idea of what a pop group should be, the group contains over 90 members ranging in age from their early teens to mid-twenties. There are different levels of membership in the group, and the members are supposed to be essentially interchangeable, although Minami was one of the group’s more popular members.

As much as I appreciate the naked admission that teen pop is formulaic and evil, it’s obviously fucked up that a 20-year-old woman should be made to feel that shitty about doing something so normal. Add in the fact that this is not communist China, but Japan, an ostensibly free society where you can buy panties from a vending machine, and it gets even worse. Women are just as objectified in Japan as they are in the west. They should at least get to have some sexual agency!

There are probably more layers to this situation that I, as a westerner, don’t understand, so feel free to fill me in if you do. But all in all, I think this is really sad, and hope things get better for the members of AKB48. In the meantime, I would like to extend an invitation to young Minami to come be a pop star in America, where you can basically finger your girlfriend in public and people will think you are being super cute. She can bring her alleged boyfriend with her. Who, I should note, is also a pop star but has not received the same blowback. I wonder why?

(Via JapanDailyPress)