Weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun (May 2-9), which hit newsstands on Wednesday, published five photos that depict the 21-year-old Kasai rendezvousing with president Yasushi Kubota on a street outside his high-end apartment in Meguro Ward on the night of April 9. The final photo shows the couple entering the building together.
A four-page report also appearing in the magazine reports that Kasai was seen leaving the apartment the next morning wearing different clothing.
Kubota, who is married and living in Kobe, spends time at the apartment during the week, Bunshun reported.
Kasai joined AKB48 in 2006, one year after the idol unit formed. The group has a strict policy about non-fraternization with members of the opposite sex.
Kasai announced in December at AKB48’s 2nd annual “Kohaku Takou Uta Gassen” event in Tokyo that she will “graduate” from the group to pursue a solo career. The ceremony is scheduled to take place on May 3.
The heading of Shukan Bunshun’s photo says she has betrayed her fans: “She couldn’t wait until graduation.”
Kubota has denied the accuracy of the report. “I am not in a relationship with Miss Kasai,” he tells Bunshun. “She has never stayed over at my residence.”
The president added that it is customary for him to share a meal with various members of the group on a regular basis. “Prior to Miss Kasai’s graduation, there were a number of things to discuss,” he says.
This is not the first time that the no-boyfriends rule of AKB48 has surfaced this year. In February, Shukan Bunshun ran photos showing member Minami Minegishi leaving the residence of a member of the boy band Generations.
Kasai was embroiled in a scandal earlier previously. In January, Shukan Young Magazine delayed and subsequently cancelled the publication of an issue of the magazine over the inclusion of an image featuring a topless Kasai being fondled from behind by a young Caucasian boy.