NGT48 Idol Group Dissolves Current Teams, 'Restarts' With New Members
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
The official website of the NGT48 idol group announced on Thursday that the group's current two teams will be dissolved after final performances this month, and that the group is "restarting" as first-generation members and new members in training (also known as "research students" in AKB48 and its sister groups like NGT48). The group's "Team NIII" and "Team G" sub-units will have their final performances at the NGT48 theater in Niigata on April 21, with the former performing at 12:30 p.m., and the latter at 5:30 p.m.
The dissolution of the NGT48 group's current teams is the latest in a series of shakeups for the idol group that began with the alleged assault of Team G vice captain Maho Yamaguchi and Yamaguchi's comments on the incident. The fallout led to the replacement of director Etsuro Imamura with the new theater manager Maiko Hayakawa and new assistant theater manager Tsuyoshi Okada.
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 on January 10, Yamaguchi apologized for "causing trouble," apparently because of these statements.
AKS posted a statement in January, 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 later statement, 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.
AKS company director Takumi Matsumura appeared with Hayakawa and Okada at a press conference on Monday to apologize for recent events and for the delay in responding to the issue. Matsumura explained that Hayakawa was appointed because she is a woman and understands a woman's point of view.
Yamaguchi and two other members, Riko Sugahara and Ayaka Tano, were absent from a performance by the group in January. 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. The scheduled January 22 and 23 performances of NGT48's Team NIII subgroup were also canceled.
AKS announced the resignation of AKB48 theater manager Takahiro Hosoi in March, and also canceled its contract with Imamura, both as a result of alleged "inappropriate conduct." Oricon News had reported that day that Hosoi and former AKB48 theater manager Tomonobu Togasaki had shared a photograph of them drinking with Imamura on Twitter, and Togasaki posted (and latter deleted) the comment, "I've heard about the whole thing. Everyone, don't be fooled by the worthless reports."
NGT48 is a sister group of the AKB48 idol group based in Niigata prefecture, and it launched in 2015.