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“This is too much … Even a criminal defendant wouldn’t have to shave her head,” said Hisamichi Okamura, a lawyer and expert in information and networking. Kazuko Ito, another lawyer and a rights group leader, said the case underscored the exploitation of girl idols in the male-dominated society.

Minegishi is the latest AKB member caught in a scandal. Last year, Rino Sashihara, 20, was forcibly transferred to a less-prestigious AKB affiliate in southern Japan over a love scandal. Recently, another girl had to cancel a planned photo album that contained a photo showing a little boy covering her bare breasts from behind, raising questions of child pornography.

A sociologist and media critic Hiroki Azuma said it’s all part of AKB business.

“Whether positive or negative, the more news is better for AKB. That’s the cult of AKB system and how they make money,” he tweeted.