(Photo: Minami Minegishi)
A Japanese pop star has shaved her head in a bizarre and very public act of remorse.
Minami Minegishi, a member of hugely popular group AKB48 in Japan, took to YouTube of Thursday to record a tearful apology to her bosses and her fans. The 20 year old singer said in the video that she had shaved her head for breaching the bands rules of no dating.
The band AKB48 has more than 90 members who rotate in performing songs, and has become on of the biggest groups in Japan and neighboring countries. However, bosses have imposed a rule on every single member that they are not allowed to date, so they can maintain an image of purity and innocence for fans.
Minegishi has been one of the most popular members of the band and her sudden video apology and shaven head has stunned many fans.
Her actions were sparked by a Japanese tabloid report that claimed Minegishi spent the night at a boy's apartment. Photos were published showing her leaving the boy's apartment early in the morning.
Minegishi's video apology is nearly four minutes long and shows her crying and bowing her head numerous times, and also begging for bosses to allow her to remain in the band.
"I was supposed to set an example for younger members, but my actions were extremely careless and senseless," she said. "My mind has gone completely blank. I don't know what I can do or what I should do, but I couldn't bear to do nothing."
The video has amassed more than 4 million views in its first day alone, but many critics have questioned whether Minegishi chose to shave her head herself or whether the entire thing is part of a bizarre publicity stunt by the group's producers, Yasushi Akimbo.
Shaving ones head is seen as a powerful act of remorse in Japan, and although is not common in present day Japan, it is well known what Minegishi meant by doing it.
For the moment, Minegishi has been relegated to a trainee group, where she has vowed to start from scratch and work her way back into the band.
She said in the apology video: "I don't expect you to forgive me, just because (I shaved my head). This is all entirely my fault. I apologize from the bottom of my heart."
Here is a video news report of the incident: