Young pop stars in Japan have won the legal right to have boyfriends or girlfriends after a court ruled that provisions in management contracts banning relationships were unconstitutional. The Tokyo District Court said that a ‘no dating’ clause, standard for young performers, violated the right to happiness guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution. Chief Judge Katsua Hara threw out a 9.9 million Yen (£59,000) claim against a former singer brought by her management company, thought to be from the seven piece girl band Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School. The suit was instigated back in September 2014 when Miho Yuuki (19) and Sena Miura (22) left the band.
The management company MovingFactory had said “The parental guardians signed contracts that said the members would not have relationships with fans and would not neglect their work” adding “They have betrayed the members of the group and all their fans. We cannot forgive this” Last month the management company for idol group N Zero announced a lawsuit against a member and a fan for having “private contact”. In the current case Chief Judge Hara saidL “Relationships are a right exercised by an individual to enrich life. They are part of the freedom to pursue happiness”.
Contractual clauses forbidding romantic engagements are standard for members of Japan’s idol groups, and this is an important decision. The decision contrasts with an earlier ruling where a member of the girl idol band Doki Doki was ordered to pay JPY 650,000 (about £4000) for having a boyfriend in breach of her contract, On the case it was found that the clause prohibiting dating was “necessary to get the support of male fans.” Judge Akitomo Kojima added in his ruling: “The revelation of an idol’s relationship damages their image.”
Whilst some fans accepted the new ruling, other fans said “you are already rich and famous. Expecting to go on dates is asking too much”.
The management of some J-pop idol groups has been criticised for moral hypocrisy, with managers demanding that female members are portrayed as pure and innocent while actually selling them as sex objects, and profiting from the sexualization of young girls.