Last week the media obsessed over that story about the 17-year-old girl who was sued by a talent agency for violating the terms of her contract, which stipulated that while she worked for them as a member of an idol singing group she could not be involved in any romantic relationships.

When she was 15 it became known to the agency that she spent a night in a hotel with a male fan. The group subsequently disbanded and the agency sued the girl. The judge who heard the case sided with the company, saying that this is the way show business works: Devotees of certain figures will withhold their support and, by extension, money if those figures are deemed unapproachable as objects of desire. The girl's actions harmed the agency's profitability. Beyond the question of what sort of private life this judge leads was the undiscussed issue of whether the man who spent the night with the girl, a minor at the time, committed a felony.

Over on the other side of that line called "success" was a similar story that received different treatment from the tabloid press. Taichi Kokubun is a 41-year-old man and member of Tokio, one of the biggest idol groups in Japan, and his announcement earlier this month that he had married a 38-year-old former television director brought up similar questions about how he was affecting the earning power of Johnny's & Associates, the agency that made him a star. Johnny's did not sue and no one expected them to, but the media still handled the story delicately.