Japanese comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto will suspend his show business activities after a raft of media reports related to sexual assault allegations against him, entertainment company Yoshimoto Kogyo has announced.
Last month, the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine reported that Matsumoto, 60, a member of popular comedy duo Downtown, had forced several women into sexual acts in 2015.
Matsumoto has expressed his wish to "confront various articles and focus on litigation," the company said Monday.
In response to the Shukan Bunshun report, Yoshimoto Kogyo clearly denied the sexual assault allegations, saying that the report "significantly lowers the social evaluation of the personality and damages his reputation." The company also said it will consider legal action.
"I'll fight because (the allegations) are totally groundless," Matsumoto said in a post on social media platform X on Monday.
Yoshimoto Kogyo said Matsumoto decided to suspend his entertainment activities because he was worried that if he continues, he will cause a lot of trouble and burden to many people concerned.
He also thinks he will not be able to devote all his energy to comedy during the litigation, the company said, adding that he expressed his "strong will" to suspend his show business activities for the time being.
Yoshimoto Kogyo apologized for causing trouble and worries to broadcasters, fans and others concerned. Broadcasting companies can decide whether to air programs featuring Matsumoto that had already been recorded, the entertainment company said.
It was unclear if broadcasters had expressed concerns over losing advertisers if they were to air programs with Matusmoto.
Matsumoto is an ambassador for the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka.