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Sashihara, one of the group's most popular members, denied his allegations, but the damage had been done.She was removed from AKB48 and transferred to far-less-celebrated sister group HKT48 based on the other side of the country. Whereas in America, fans and the media obsess over every detail of, say, teen-pop stars Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez's relationship, Japan's entertainment industry has a long history of pretending that its stars simply have no romantic interests—and punishing them when the illusion is broken.
It's in their interest and those who are trying to make money off them to keep their actual lives, personalities, and humanity separate." The no-dating dictum can be traced back to the mid-'80s "idol" group Onyanko Club, an immensely popular lineup of schoolgirl-uniform-clad singers created by AKB48 founder Yasushi Akimoto.Garnering more press attention was Jin Akanishi, a member of the popular boy band KAT-TUN and a solo artist, who secretly married a woman earlier this year without telling his agency.This year alone has seen a slew of scandals besides Sashihara's.In January, AKB48 members Natsumi Hirajima and Rumi Yonezawa resigned after photos of them with men appeared on the popular message board 2Channel (the Japanese equivalent of 4Chan).
Barring a reversal of fortune or clever marketing stunt, Rino Sashihara, a 19-year-old singer who's been involved with AKB48 since 2007, won't be part of the Tokyo Dome performance.
Earlier this summer, a man claiming to be her ex-boyfriend approached popular Japanese tabloid newspaper Shukan Bunshun with half-naked photos of the pop star and lurid details of their supposed relationship.