• Kyodo


Prosecutors on Thursday sought a two-year prison term for Hitomi Yoshizawa, a former member of the all-girl J-pop group Morning Musume, for allegedly injuring two people in a hit-and-run incident while driving under the influence of alcohol in September.

The 33-year-old admitted to the charges of a hit-and-run, drunken driving and causing injury through negligence during her first court hearing at the Tokyo District Court.

The court is set to hand down a ruling on Friday.

“I was immature as an adult. I feel sorry for causing trouble to many people,” Yoshizawa told the court tearfully.

Asked by Judge Takao Sato how she intends to face the crime, Yoshizawa said, “I will never forget what I have done for the rest of my life.”

Yoshizawa ran a red light on the morning of Sept. 6 in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, hitting a female cyclist and injuring a male pedestrian before fleeing the scene, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors criticized Yoshizawa’s behavior following the accident, saying her act of fleeing the scene after ignoring a witness’s call to halt her vehicle “cannot be seen but an attempt to avoid criminal responsibility.”

Her defense lawyer called for a suspended term for Yoshizawa, saying she pledges not to obtain a driver’s license again even after the revocation is over.

Yoshizawa and the two victims have already agreed to settle out of court, according to the lawyer.

Yoshizawa debuted in 2000 as a member of Morning Musume, known for its smash hit “Love Machine” released in 1999. She served as a public relations ambassador for her hometown of Miyoshi, Saitama Prefecture, after leaving the group in 2007.

She stepped down from the post and announced her retirement from the entertainment world following the incident.

She has had her driver’s license revoked.

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