A defamation trial over popular comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto’s sex abuse allegations, first published in weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, kicked off on Thursday.

Matsumoto, who was absent from the hearing at the Tokyo District Court, is seeking ¥550 million ($3.6 million) for defamation against Bungei Shunju, the magazine’s publisher, over its report alleging that he had forced two women into having sex.

Bungei Shunju said it will fight the case and requested the case to be dismissed.