A recent case of assault on a member of a popular female idol group has sparked a barrage of criticism aimed at the ensemble’s management agency for its failure to protect her and take care of her after the incident.
Maho Yamaguchi of Niigata-based NGT48 tearfully revealed in a video post Wednesday that two men in their 20s forced their way into the entryway of her home on Dec. 8 and grabbed her face. She was uninjured.
She said that the group’s management firm did not really do anything even after she spoke with them, and asked who would be responsible if “the worst-case scenario” occurred.
On Thursday, Yamaguchi appeared on stage for the group’s three-year anniversary event, took a deep bow and expressed her apologies for “causing trouble.”
“I have something that I want to protect, so I’ve told you about (the incident) this way.”
Her fans emphatically responded by saying that she did not need to apologize.
A petition calling for NGT48’s manager to resign was launched Thursday on the website Change.org. The petition also asks the managing agency to publicly apologize for not handling the incident properly.
As of Friday evening it had gathered nearly 30,000 signatures.
Other female idols and TV celebrities also expressed their discontent with the management company, asking why the victim had to explain details of the case by herself on social media in the first place.
They also questioned why she then felt the need to apologize.
“How could they let Ms. Yamaguchi speak publicly yesterday? They have to heal her pain first,” said Haruna Kondo, a female comedian, on a Nippon TV morning show on Friday.
She slammed the management agency’s handling of the case, as the company has not yet punished another member of the group even though they have since admitted involvement in the incident.
Natsuko Yokosawa, also a female comedian, voiced her concern over the agency’s handling of the incident during a Fuji TV show on Thursday.
“I wonder if it was possible for her to discuss it with the agency in a proper manner,” she said, “since the only protection (a celebrity) has is from their agency.
“They have an obligation to provide good protection.”
The two men who assaulted Yamaguchi were arrested but were subsequently released without charge.
The two reportedly said they were fans of the idol star and “just wanted to talk with her.”
According to a statement published on NGT48’s website Thursday, another member had given the male fans information about when Yamaguchi might return home.
As a measure to keep other group members safe, the company said they would be distributing personal safety alarms. Staff members would also patrol around their homes, it said.
According to the statement by NGT48’s management company, it has identified another male fan involved in the incident. All individuals identified will be barred from NGT48 events, the firm added.
The company also canceled three upcoming events in which Yamaguchi had been scheduled to perform.