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.
According to Coffee Meets Bagel, which claims to help singles look for meaningful relationships rather than one-night stands, 66 per cent of Hongkongers who have downloaded the app log on every day. The smartphone app, started four years ago and claiming to have made up to 2.5 billion introductions worldwide since then, expanded to Hong Kong in March last year.
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.
(In Japan, "idols" are prepackaged pop singers with choreographed moves, rabid fanbases, and pure-seeming public personas).
The policy didn't lead to any scandals within Onyanko Club—an underage smoking controversy stands as that outfit's most salacious shakeup—and various members have since said they secretly dated men during their time with the group.