Japanese Pop Star Shaves Head As Apology

A Japanese pop star has appeared in a video sobbing after shaving her head in penance for being caught spending a night with a boyfriend.

Minami Minegishi, 20, of all-girl group AKB48 was forced to make an apology on screen after she broke her band's strict no dating rule.

She had been photographed by a tabloid newspaper leaving the apartment of her boyfriend, Alan Shirahama, a dancer in a boy band.

The video of her apologising which appeared on the group's website and was later posted on YouTube has been seen by more than six million people.

During the four-minute-long video, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she says: "I don't believe just doing this means I can be forgiven for what I did, but the first thing I thought was that I don't want to quit AKB48.

"It was impossible for me to think of leaving AKB48, which has supportive fans and fellow members I have spent most of my youth with. I know this is too optimistic, but I still want to be Minami Minegishi of AKB48.

"It was all my fault. I sincerely apologise for it.

"I leave further decisions to Mr Akimoto [producer] and staff members. I don't know how to deal with this matter yet, but all I can do now is expressing my feelings here. Thank you very much."

Head shaving is a traditional form of showing regret and publicly seeking forgiveness in Japan.

AKB48 is the world's largest girl pop group and has a total of 48 members putting it in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Every year, fans vote to determine the most popular members out of a 237 member pool.

The members of AKB48 and their affiliated troupes are then rotated in and out according to their popularity.

The girl with the most votes becomes the leader of this sprawling group.

Minegishi was one of the original members of AKB48 when it was launched by producer Yasushi Akimoto in 2005.

In a stroke of marketing genius, fans only get to vote by purchasing AKB48 CDs. One CD buys one vote.

In exchange for being part of the lucrative group, the band members must not date men so they do not shatter the fantasies of male fans who buy their records.

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