Court rules pop idol has right to pursue happiness, can date

Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court has rejected a damages suit filed by a talent agency against a former member of an idol pop group for breach of contract because she dated a fan.

The court ruled Monday that the contract restricted her freedom to pursue happiness.

The same court in September ruled that a different former teen group member should pay compensation for having a romance in defiance of the ban on dating imposed on many idol entertainers.

In the latest lawsuit, the talent agency based in Tokyo argued it could seek compensation from the 23-year-old woman based on a clause in the contract.

The clause stated that compensation can be requested when losses stem from an idol group member dating a fan.

But Judge Katsuya Hara said that the contract “significantly restricts the freedom to pursue happiness” and that whether to go out on a date falls under “the right to self-determination,” which is equal to “living in a way one wants to.”

He also said cases in which compensation can be requested are limited.

The woman signed the contract with the talent agency in April 2012. After she started going out with the male fan, she told the agency in July 2014 that she wanted to annul the contract.

In the other ruling in September, the Tokyo District Court said revelation of a love affair “deteriorates the image of idols” and ordered the former female teenage idol group member to pay ¥650,000 in compensation.

Judge Akitomo Kojima also said in that case that the dating ban clause was “necessary for idols to win the support of male fans.” The six-member idol group, which debuted in July 2013, disbanded that October after the woman was found to have dated a male fan.

The judgment was finalized in the following month as the woman did not appeal the ruling.

  • 7743

    Good. Dating bans are nonsensical, to put it extremely mildly. I don’t know Japanese law, but I hope this can work as a precedent for all future cases involving these agencies trying to pull this on women and men who worked for them in the past.

  • Philosopher

    How can the no-dating clause even be included in contracts when can’t be upheld? Is it even legal?

    • theSU

      Contracts often include clauses that don’t hold up against the law, for example EULAs of US-made software often have conflicts with EU law. Often contracts include a clause that says something along the lines of “even if clauses in this contract are being voided by law, the rest of the clauses still are valid”, covering the butts of the ones offering the contract, because otherwise if one clause is illegal the entire contract would be voided.

      So contracts can include clauses that are not legal, but those clauses will be voided if challenged.

      • SWalkerTTU

        That concept is called “severability”. It’s pretty standard in American contracts because of the fluid nature of American law. (Granted it’s sometimes as fluid as molasses in January, but it still flows.)

      • Philosopher

        Thanks for the interesting information. I wonder how many aspiring pop-idols know which clauses of their contracts can be legally upheld?

  • Doubting Thomas

    “In the other ruling in September, the Tokyo District Court said the revelation of a love affair “deteriorates the image of idols” and ordered the former female teenage idol group member to pay ¥650,000 ($5,500) in compensation.”
    What an awful, awful ruling. I am glad the Supreme Court made the right decision for once.