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J-pop ‘no dating’ clauses ruled unconstitutional

By | Published on Thursday 21 January 2016

Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School

A court in Tokyo has thrown out a claim by an artist management company for damages after one of its artists broke a ‘no dating’ clause in her contract. The judge said that such clauses were unconstitutional.

The unnamed singer – thought to be a former member of Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School, two of whom were targeted with legal action by management company MovingFactory last year – was being sued for ¥9.9 million (approximately £60,000) in damages for allegedly having a relationship with a fan.

According to The Australian, judge Katsuya Hara said at the Tokyo District Court: “We must acknowledge that forbidding pop idols to date by claiming compensation for damages goes too far. Relationships are a right exercised by an individual to enrich life. They are part of the freedom to pursue happiness”.

The question now is whether or not this ruling sets a precedent. ‘No dating’ and ‘no sex’ clauses are commonplace in contracts for Japanese pop groups, and it is not unheard of for management companies to sue if they believe those agreements have been broken.

When it announced that it was taking legal action against Miho Yuuki and Sena Miura in 2014, MovingFactory said: “The parental guardians signed contracts that said the members would not have relationships with fans and would not neglect their work. They have betrayed the [other] members of the group and all their fans. We cannot forgive this”.

Last month the management company for pop group N Zero reportedly announced a lawsuit against a member and a fan for having “private contact”.

While last year, the same court that issued this latest ruling ordered a seventeen year old former member of the group DokiDoki to pay Spiral Music damages of ¥650,000 (approx. £4000) for a similar breach of contract. The judge in that case, Akitomo Kojima, said: “The clause prohibiting dating was necessary to get the support of male fans. The revelation of an idol’s relationship damages their image”.

And in 2013, AKB48 singer Minami Minegishi was demoted in the hierarchical group for breaking her management firm’s rules on dating. She then shaved her head and issued a tearful apology on YouTube asking for forgiveness. She remains a member of the group.