An eventful week for idol megagroup AKB48 continues. In case you haven't been following, Minami "Mii-chan" Minegishi was humiliated in rather medieval fashion for reasons that no one should ever have cause to feel ashamed about. Naturally, this left quite a few folks, among them the very people Minegishi's apology stunt should have mollified, asking "Why?", and "WTF AKB WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!".
Now we have a response, straight from the General Manager of the AKB48 theater, Tomonobu Togasaki, who took to Google+ to clarify the incident. Helpfully (and perhaps acknowledging the international "WTF Japan"-level attention the story drew), the statement was simultaneously posted in English as well as Japanese. Check it out below.
I believe I made my thoughts clear in this piece, so I'll refrain from further comment except to say that while the reasoning is valid, none of this makes it OK, good, or appropriate. Even the fans themselves were shocked, not placated. If we're lucky, management will take this incident as an opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate where they draw the line on bending over backwards to protect the "pure girl" image they sell. Fans as well, should reconsider the signals they send, and whether their insistence on purity might actually be harming the idols they claim to care so deeply for.
In related news, Mii-chan seems to be getting back in the saddle, attending an AKB Handshake event yesterday. Reportedly, many of the fans in attendance said they sympathized with Minegishi, and asked that her apology video be taken down. As of this writing the video is no longer available from AKB48's YouTube page.
A good start, I'd say.
When we were in a hurry preparing for the streaming and we have received a report that Minegishi really wants to apologize personally with her hair shaved. We felt how strong her will and feeling towards AKB48 was, so we decided to stream the video as we planned.
â–¡ Was it necessary to shave her hair?
It wouldn't be necessary even if you ask if it was necessary or not. It was just that Minegishi really wanted to convey how strong her feeling was.
â–¡ Did anybody stop her from shaving her hair?
I heard that when she came out from the make up room, she had already shaved her hair. It seems that the staff beside her did stop her. However, I heard that she said that people might think of her as a fool, but she really wanted to put her reflection into action, so she cut her bangs using scissors without losing control over herself.
â–¡ Isn't it unfair that the punishment for each of the members who had scandals were different?
It would be better if we can establish the same rule. However, we are experiencing a dilemma because it is difficult to conceive a common rule since each member is under a different situation.
For example, a member had been warned many times, but did not listen to anyone and created a scandal.
There was also a member who wanted to pursue her dreams and was about to plan on graduating when a scandal about her was exposed.
There was also a member whose past was discovered.
There was also a member whose scandal was not exposed, but still had a huge rule violation.
Please do understand that we have to make decisions with consideration to many circumstances.
â–¡ There was a photo of Minegishi, which has been uploaded on the internet, where she looked like she was having fun with the first generation members. Did she really reflect on her actions?
Before the rehearsals of the theater performance of Team B, I saw Minegishi who came to apologize with an exhausted expression on her face, so I can say that she has reflected on her actions. At the same time, it seemed like she was trying her best not to make people around her feel worried. I think that is the reason why the members of the same generation as her were encouraging Minegishi who was feeling depressed.
We, the managing team, would like to support the members who are trying their best to pursue their dreams by having continuous discussion with them.
AKB Group Theater General Manager