At the beginning of 2019, an incident of a Japanese idol and the actions of her company became a hot topic in Japan, causing an international concern resulting in many people asking for justice to the girl. Let’s find out more about the incident that caused such a commotion not only in Japan, but around the world, too.
— official_NGT48 (@official_NGT48) December 16, 2018
I will firstly introduce the idol group NGT48 and its members so that everyone gets to know them better before talking about the incident itself. NGT48 is the sister group of the famous Japanese idol group AKB48 that I’m sure many of you are pretty accustomed with. NGT48’s theater is located in Niigata City and as their base is Niigata, their name “NGT” is the short form of the city.
They were established in 2015 and officially debuted in 2017 with their first single “Seishun Tokei” (青春時計). Currently, the group is divided into three teams: Team NIII, Team G and Team TIII, a total of 21 members.
The member related to the incident is “Yamaguchi Maho”, also known as “Mahoho”. She is now 23 years old and is working as the vice-captain of the Team G.
She is quite popular among the members of the AKB group and even got the 53th in the popularity selection voted by fans.
— 山口真帆 (@maho_yamaguchi) December 4, 2018
The incident started from Yamaguchi Maho`s live broadcast at “SHOWROOM” on 8th of January, 2019 when she suddenly started crying while saying “I want to tell you all the truth” and also blamed NGT48`s CCO for not taking any action towards the bad guys.
The live broadcast was interrupted and, suddenly stopped.
As a result, Yamaguchi Maho started posting about it on her personal Twitter where she affirmed that:
One day when she was heading home, two men attempted to break into her house and grab her. Fortunately, the lift made a sound and distracted the guys, so she successfully escaped and the men ended up arrested.
The incident was however, related to the NGT48`s members as someone told her fans about her personal information such as home address and time she gets back home.
Their attack was planned from the very beginning! The men were later freed without any charges and the operating officer of NGT48 didn’t do anything to the girls related to this incident.
The victim was frightened and stressed,reason why she finally decided to speak out and tell everyone the story.
— 預言者 天瀬ひみか Speak (@amasehimika147) 2019年1月14日
Although Yamaguchi’s post was quickly deleted, the content involving the attack, private contact between members and fans, also the disclosure of personal information and other major matters, immediately attracted fans` attention, forcing the operating officer to explain the truth of the incident.
— さいたまのアルアイン (@melonpan_doumei) January 13, 2019
On January 10th, the Japanese police officially released some updates related to the incident stating that on 8th of December, 2018, Yamaguchi was attacked by two men on her way home. Both were her fans, claiming that they just wanted to talk to the girl , no violence was used, so they let them go without being charged. Although the details are different from what Yamaguchi said, this proved that the incident did happen.
The fans got really angry because of the operator`s actions who planned on concealing the incident and also did not take care of the members. Even the police did not mention whether other members were involved, everyone is speculating about the truth behind the incident.
— たけ🍒 (@Take_4648) January 10, 2019
After the news were released, NGT48 held a special performance for their theater`s 3rd year anniversary on January 11th. Yamaguchi also joined the performance and after singing, she apologized for causing trouble, saying that she has discussed with the operator and will continue working as a member of NGT48. Also, she asked everyone to keep supporting NGT48.
This custom of letting the victims apologize ended up creating a big commotion in Japan. Not only the fans were dissatisfied, but everyone felt that is so unfair towards the victim. A well-known member of the AKB48 group “Sashihara Rino” also said that Yamaguchi shouldn`t be the one apologizing. International media also started reporting the news on Yamaguchi and started the hashtag “Justice for Maho” in order to blame the operators for not handling the incident as they should be.
— 指原 莉乃 (@345__chan) January 10, 2019
— 小松隆次郎 (@Kryujiro) January 14, 2019
After Yamaguchi apologized, during the same night, the operator finally spoke on the official website. They reconfirmed the statement given by the police and clarified that no members were involved in the crime. However, he did say that one member accidentally revealed to strangers the time Yamaguchi gets back home. In order to prevent similar incidents happening again, they will give all members a subsidy for buying anti-theft alarms and also patrol around their homes. Of course, they will also take care of Yamaguchi Maho.
Although the operator has officially apologized to the public, it seems that people were still angry, so they held a press conference on January 14 and once again apologized. At the press conference, they explained that the former operating officer, Imamura Etsuro , will be replaced by Hayakawa Maiko, the reason was however not to demote Imamura, but because women can understand the members` feelings much easier.
This incident has become the focus of the Japanese media these days and it seems that is far from completely settling down. We all know that Japanese are very keen on idols and can even turn teenagers into superstars, however they are very strict on them, asking their members not to fall in love,for example, so they will keep an idealistic, fantasy image.
However, this incident revealed the dark side of being a Japanese Idol and the improper practices of Japanese companies (to make the victims take responsibility and apologize), resulting into many people criticizing these practices. Regardless of the truth of the incident, I only hope that the operators can give more support to Yamaguchi, help her recover and continue following her dream : to be an idol.
What do you think of Japanese idols and this incident? Share your opinion with us!
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