Former NGT48 Idol Maho Yamaguchi's Talent Agency Takes Alleged Assailants to Court for Damages
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Two men who were arrested on suspicion of assault against former NGT48 idol Maho Yamaguchi went on trial last Friday. Yamaguchi's talent agency AKS is seeking 30 million yen in damages from the suspects. AKS claims that the actions caused by the defendants have disrupted planned tours and public appearances, which have resulted in losses of over 100 million yen in total.
One part of the court records went public on Tuesday. The defendants denied grabbing Yamaguchi's face or having any connection to a criminal group. The first defendant claimed to have had a friendly, non-violent relationship with Yamaguchi. Their connection stemmed from a handshake event in 2017. Because giving presents to the idols is forbidden under NGT48's rules, the defendant said that he asked Yamaguchi if he could meet up with her privately to give the present, to which Yamaguchi acquiesced. She told him her home address to send presents to, and they exchanged private messages through Twitter. The defendant claimed that this was the extent of their connection.
The defendant claimed to have been satisfied with this relationship until Yamaguchi stopped replying to his messages in the fall of 2017. Between the end of communications and the spring of 2018, he purchased approximately 800,000 yen worth of handshake event tickets and attempted to meet her. Through using the tickets, he was able to meet with her at handshake events in October and November 2018.
At the handshake events, the defendant claimed that Yamaguchi explained that the reason she cut off contact was because she was worried about rumors spreading in the group that she was fraternizing too closely with a fan. Within the group, it was apparently suspected that she was looking for a rich patron to buy her things. The defendant claimed that they repaired their relationship after talking things through.
The alleged assault occurred in December; two suspects allegedly confronted Yamaguchi outside her own home in Niigata and grabbed her face as she was entering her home. According to the police, both suspects were 25-year-old unemployed university students. The police said that the suspects "only wanted to talk to Yamaguchi, and didn't think it would be a big deal." The suspects denied the assault and were subsequently released without charges.
Yamaguchi began speaking about the incident on social media about a month later. Yamaguchi said that she initially kept silent about the incident so as not to cause trouble, but eventually spoke out because, as she said, "it's been so hard on me. I don't want the same thing to happen to the other girls [of NGT48]." At a performance on January 10, Yamaguchi apologized for "causing trouble," apparently because of these statements.
NGT48 is a sister group of the AKB48 idol group based in Niigata prefecture, and it launched in 2015. Maho Yamaguchi and two fellow members of the "Team G" sub-unit, Riko Sugahara and Rena Hasegawa, officially graduated from the group on May 18.