TOKYO (TR) – Photos published in a tabloid magazine this week showing AKB48’s Minami Minegishi leaving the residence of a member of boy band Generations have resulted in her demotion, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 1).
The photos, which appeared in Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 7), show the 20-year-old pop idol, wearing a white breathing mask and hat, near the doorway and walking on the sidewalk outside the apartment building, located in Setagaya Ward, of 19-year-old dancer Alan Shirahama on the morning of January 17.
AKB48 management announced that Minegishi would be demoted to trainee level as punishment for the disturbance caused by the scandal. The reprimand is effective from February 1.
Minegishi is a first-generation member of the idol unit, which started in 2005. The group has a strict policy about non-fraternization with members of the opposite sex.
The magazine hit newsstands on Thursday. In a four-minute clip posted on YouTube at 5:00 p.m. that day, Minegishi provided a tearful apology to her fans, the other members of AKB48, staff members and her family.
“As a senior member, it is my responsibility to be a role model to younger members,” said Minegishi, dressed in a white shirt and with her black hair shaved. “My behavior was inexcusable, a thoughtless act that was totally lacking in self-awareness of what it means to be a senior member.”
Along with saying that the cutting of her hair was an initial reaction to seeing the magazine, she also expressed her desire to remain on the AKB48 roster.