A member of a Japanese girl group shaved her head in penance and delivered a tearful video taped apology after admitting spending the night with a male dancer.
Minami Minegishi, 20, who is a singer in the AKB48 girl group, posted a photo of herself shorn of her famous silken locks and said to the group's legions of fans: "I was supposed to be in the position where I always had to act as a role model for the junior members of the group. However, what I have done was so thoughtless and lacked self-awareness."
Earlier photographs had been plastered over Japanese tabloids of her leaving the apartment of a 19-year-old pop group member, and within 24 hours of being posted, the YouTube video had gained millions of hits.
The 88 strong all girl outfit has a revolving line-up of members some as young as 13. It is Japan's most successful ever female group, and shot to fame for its members' innocent yet sexually provocative schoolgirl look.
In the lyrics to one hit they sing: "I want to take off my school uniform, I want to misbehave, you can do whatever you like, I want to experience adult pleasure."
A recent advert in which members passed sweets from mouth to mouth provoked outrage for encouraging homosexuality and police launched an investigation after former member Tomomi Kasai was pictured with a young boy touching her breasts.
However, members are banned from dating and are expected to remain sexually pure and 'unattainable'. The photographs published this week may spell the end of Minegishi's burgeoning career, with band manager Akimoto Yasushi yet to decide on her fate.
Minegishi said: "I do not expect that I would be forgiven by doing this, but what I first thought was that I did not want to quit AKB48."
Recently a fellow AKB48 member was demoted to 'trainee level' after a newspaper exposed the details of a previous romantic relationship.
Successful members often go on to music and acting careers.
Some fans rallied in support of Minegishi, others were more critical.
In a comment posted under the video today (February 2) a user named Iishichi Kobayashi said: "She is honor bound to adhere to any and all rules associated to her, as is her obligation to society and her fans.
"This act of contrition, and her apology, is entirely reasonable and necessary. You may seem a little shocked, but that's entirely natural. In Japan, the public always comes before the individual. One is supposed to have utmost respect and humility, as exemplified here."
Watch AKB48 in one of their most controversial videos below.