NGT48 Management Apologizes to Fans, Members in Press Conference
posted on by Karen Ressler
Takumi Matsumura, Maiko Hayakawa, and Tsuyoshi Okada of NGT48's talent agency AKS appeared at a press conference on Monday to apologize for the circumstances around the incident in which two men were arrested, but subsequently released, for allegedly assaulting NGT48 member Maho Yamaguchi.
Matsumura, the company director, opened with, "We would like to take this occasion to apologize again to everyone for causing troubles, difficulties, and worries. For causing anxiety to fans and, of course, to members, we are truly sorry."
Matsumura also apologized for the delay in responding to the issue, and explained that the reason was because they wanted to check with police first. He also said that he was previously concerned that being open about the issue would cause secondary or tertiary damage to the members, but that he and the rest of the staff should have communicated more with Yamaguchi herself.
Hayakawa recently took over as NGT48 theater manager following the resignation of the previous manager Etsurō Imamura, while Tsuyoshi Okada is the new assistant manager. Regarding the personnel change, Matsumura explained that Hayakawa was appointed because she is a woman and understands a woman's point of view. Hayakawa said that she is speaking to each of the members of NGT48 individually in order to create a good group.
The alleged assault occurred in December; the 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]." Yamaguchi also reportedly spoke out on Twitter against Imamura for keeping the issue silent, and against a fellow NGT48 member for giving up her home address, although ANN was not able to verify if Yamaguchi posted and then removed these tweets.
At a performance last Thursday, Yamaguchi apologized for "causing trouble," apparently because of these statements.
AKS posted a statement last Thursday, saying that Imamura had been working with the police to investigate the issue, and that another member of NGT48 had given up the time in which Yamaguchi returns home to a man who accosted her on the street. However, in another statement on Monday, the company announced that it had not found any evidence of "unlawful action" by NGT48 members, but it will still tap lawyers and experts to form a third-party committee to investigate if any members had performed "inappropriate conduct." The company announced Imamura's resignation in the same statement.
Yamaguchi and two other members, Riko Sugahara and Ayaka Tano, were absent from the group's performance on Saturday. Sugahara was absent due to an illness, but Tano mentioned that, while she was not involved in recent events, she and her family were worried for her safety after police showed up to question her without explanation.