It is the norm in Japan that idols are forbidden by their management to be in a love-relationship: idols who break this rule usually get fired. (Secret) dating is treated as a big offence in the idol industry, even to such an extent that an idol from the mega girl group AKB48, Minami Minegishi (峯岸みなみ), once shaved her head bald in order to seek forgiveness from her management.
The no-dating policy is perhaps one of the main reasons idols tend to graduate before they reach their 30s. They want to be in a relationship and get married too! However, the recent dismissal of a lawsuit from management against an idol who violated the company’s no-dating policy could be a game changer in the idol industry!
The unnamed 23-year old idol was sued by her company for having a relationship with a male fan, which is against the company’s rules. The company sought for an amount of 9.9 million yen (close to 100.000 American dollars) to compensate for damages and violation of the agreement. In April 2012, when the idol was 19 years old, she signed a contract with the company so she would become a member of an idol group. The contract contained a clause which forbade the woman from dating any male fans, or risk getting sued for damages. In spite of her contract, the woman started dating a male fan around December 2013. She conveyed her intention to quit working for the company in July 2014 and did not appear in concerts she was scheduled to perform at.
The judge of the case in Tokyo District Court, Katsuya Hara, mentioned that while it is understandable for companies to impose a dating ban on idols, it goes too far to claim compensation for damages when an idol does choose to date. The company’s contract greatly restricts the idol’s freedom to pursue happiness, and the decision to go on a date falls under the right to self-determination. If the idol would have deliberately gone on a date with the intent of causing damage to the company, then it would have been reasonable to sue the idol for damages. As there was no such intent, the lawsuit was rejected. So for this time, a bullet was dodged…
Do you think this incidence could be a game changer in the idol world in Japan? I personally do not think so, as it seems like the reason that the company did not win the lawsuit was due to the huge amount of compensation sought by the company, which seemed unfair. I am certain that the company could at least still fire any idol who breaks the no-dating rule.