Tokio member Tatsuya Yamaguchi plans to leave pop group over kissing scandal

Kyodo

Tatsuya Yamaguchi, a member of Japanese all-male pop group Tokio, intends to leave the five-member band after coming under fire for kissing a high school student against her will, other group members revealed Wednesday.

The remaining four members — Shigeru Joshima, Masahiro Matsuoka, Tomoya Nagase and Taichi Kokubun — said at a press conference they have not yet concluded what to do about Yamaguchi’s resignation.

The 46-year-old musician and TV personality had admitted to the allegation and was referred to prosecutors in April, but they dropped his indictment on Tuesday. The girl is believed to have withdrawn her victim report after agreeing to a settlement.

“We apologize from the bottom of our hearts,” said group leader Joshima.

Tokio members said they plan to continue their work for the time being. Yamaguchi has already been suspended from work indefinitely.

“Even if we accept his resignation letter, I still cannot abandon Yamaguchi,” said Kokubun.

The group had been preparing to release an album later this year to mark the 25th anniversary of its debut, but the plan has been dropped, they said.

Last month, Yamaguchi was referred to prosecutors on suspicion of forcibly kissing the girl, who he had met through work, at his home in Tokyo’s Minato Ward in February.

He was drinking alcohol alone on the day of the incident and invited the girl to his home in the evening, according to his lawyer.

The case has rocked the Japanese entertainment industry, prompting the suspension of TV programs, commercials and other advertisements in which Yamaguchi appeared, including a program for youths aired by the country’s public broadcaster NHK.

Tokio had been working as special ambassadors to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games flag tour, which will see replicas of the event’s official flags travel across Japan.