TOKYO (TR) – The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of AKS, the management agency of the popular all-girl group AKB48, over publisher Bungeisha regarding an article published more than three years ago that insinuated the existence of a romantic relationship between the company’s president and then member Mariko Shinoda, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Sept. 3).
AKS, which sought 110 million yen in compensation and a published apology, was awarded 1.65 million yen by the court.
In the February 18, 2010 issue of weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun, an article citing interviews with former members of the group claimed that president Yasushi Kubota provided highly favorable treatment to Shinoda, who “graduated” from the group in July.
The article, titled “AKB48 President’s ‘Pleasure Group,'” said the performer lived in a special room inside a a residence of Kubota, who is married. She also reportedly carried a credit card in his name.
Kubota claimed that the article gave the impression that he was engaged in a sexual relationship with Shinoda. Bunshun argued that reporting on favorable treatment does not imply the existence of such a degree of intimacy.
Presiding judge Tetsu Aizawa disputed the part of the article regarding the relationship, saying it was lacking in reasonable evidence. “Based on the the parties interviewed, it is difficult to recognize that the truth was reported,” the judge said.
In a statement, the editorial department of Shukan Bunshun said that it would seek an appeal of the decision.