NGT48 Idol Maho Yamaguchi Apologizes for Speaking Out After Alleged Assault

posted on by Karen Ressler
Talent agency issues statement on incident

Following a performance at NGT48 Theater on Thursday, NGT48 idol group member Maho Yamaguchi (23) offered an apology for "causing trouble" with recent incidents. The apology comes after Wednesday's revelation that police arrested two men for allegedly assaulting Yamaguchi in December.

Yamaguchi began speaking out about the incident on social media on Wednesday, about a month after it occurred on December 8. "I don't want to trouble those who have taken care of me. I don't want anyone to hate NGT, so I kept silent this past month even though it was painful," she wrote on Twitter. "But because it's been so hard on me I don't want the same thing to happen to the other girls [of NGT48]... so I'm telling the truth."

Screenshots of Yamaguchi's Twitter account which contain posts that elaborate on the situation have been circulating on social media, though ANN was not able to verify if Yamaguchi posted and then removed the tweets. In these posts, Yamaguchi alleges that a fellow NGT48 member had told the suspects Yamaguchi's address and what time she would be home, and told the suspects to go to Yamaguchi's home. In one of these tweets, Yamaguchi names NGT48 theater manager Etsurō Imamura, saying that Imamura had told her that the matter would be "taken care of," but that he remained silent and "betrayed her."

At her performance on Thursday, the first since the incident was reported, Yamaguchi did not directly address the incident, but bowed and said, "As I said before [on social media], there's something that I want to protect, so I said what I did. I ended up causing trouble for those who have taken care of me, so I'm sorry about that."

Thursday's performance was Yamaguchi's first since the incident was made public. Japanese newspaper Sankei Sports reported that Yamaguchi appears to be thinner than before. Earlier this week, Yamaguchi explained that she had lost weight over the past few weeks due to stress, and asked fans not to worry.

NGT48's talent agency AKS posted a statement on the official NGT48 website on Thursday, also apologizing for the trouble surrounding the incident. The agency said that Imamura had been working with the police for the last month to investigate the issue. The statement also claimed that another member was accosted by a man in the street and she informed him of the time in which Yamaguchi returns home, enabling him to guess where she lived.

The agency said it could confirm that a third male "fan" was involved in the incident, though not as one of the arrested perpetrators, and that it is taking measures to ensure that all three will be unable to attend events in the future. The agency also promised to take measures to take better care of its members going forward.

Yamaguchi concluded her message at Thursday's performance by saying that she has spoken with AKS and she hopes NGT48 will go in a new direction as a result of the incident. She said she will work hard as the captain of Team G to see this through.

Nevertheless, many fans have responded angrily on the assumption that the agency required Yamaguchi to apologize. A fan petition calling for Imamura's resignation and an apology from the staff has garnered more than 3,000 signatures.

The two suspects allegedly assaulted 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.

NGT48 is a sister group of the AKB48 idol group based in Niigata prefecture, and it launched in 2015.

Sources: Sankei Sports, NGT48's website via Kotaku, Hachima Kikō, Arama Japan

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