If you think being a teenager is tough, try being a J-pop artist. Up until recently, they were legally prohibited from having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Really.
“The Tokyo District Court said that a ‘no dating’ clause, standard for young performers, violated the right to happiness guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution,” reports Music Law Updates. The chief judge in this case, Katsua Hara, also threw out a 9.9 million Yen (roughly $118,184.60 CAN) claim against Miho Yukki, then 19, by the management of the seven-piece all-female band Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School when she and another member, Sena Miura, then 22, left the band. The suit was filed back in September 2014.
What’s really kind of fascinating is that the management group, MovingFactory, sued not just the two singers who left, but their parents and the fans with which they were in relationships, according to JapanTrends.com. Good grief.
Apparently, to be a member of a Japanese pop band, there’s something akin to a purity clause, or the stipulations rumoured to be part of the contracts signed by those Disney starlets, insisting that they “would not have relationships with fans” and would not neglect their work with their bands. These clauses are signed by the artists’ parents or guardians and are meant to keep the fans happy and the groups together. In his decision, Hara said “Relationships are a right exercised by an individual to enrich life. They are part of the freedom to pursue happiness.” To deny that right to such artists is to limit their freedoms, happiness and the fullness of their individual lives, he said.
Here’s where it gets kind of weird. J-pop bands or artists enjoy idol-like status in the country and are nearly worshiped for their entertainment value. An earlier ruling in a separate but somewhat similar case found that “a member of the girl idol band Doki Doki was ordered to pay 650,000 Yen 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.'”
Of course, this also opens conversation on whether female J-Pop stars in particular are receiving and sending out mixed messages: Looking innocent, dressing in outfits associated with parochial school girls, all while being lusted after by their male fans and portrayed, at least in some instances, as nothing more than willing and obliging sexual objects, nothing more.
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