TOKYO (TR) – Over a two-week period earlier this month, Shukan Bunshun (Nov. 28) photographed Tomonobu Togasaki, general manager of all-girl pop group AKB48, smoking drugs and rendezvousing with girls at a hotel.
Three black and white images, taken between November 9 and 15, show the 40-year-old standing on the emergency stairwell of a dining bar in the Moto Azabu area of Minato Ward. In one frame he is seen holding a small package, while in another he has his right fist pointing down as if to light a pipe.
Based on close-up versions of the photographs, the magazine identifies the substance as H Zone 12th, which retails for 3,000 yen per package and is classified as a “law-evading herb.” Such a product contains organic material mixed with a synthetic substance whose chemical structure is similar to drugs that have already been banned.
Photographers on November 5 also spotted Togasaki, who is married with children, visiting Hotel The Glanz, located in Azabu Juban, with an unidentified woman. Six days later, he was seen outside the same hotel entrance just after midnight as a 19-year-old woman enters. He was then photographed departing alone at 2:45 a.m., while his companion exited eight hours later.
On November 10, a total of 20 girls were drafted during the “AKB48 Group Draft Kaigi,” which took place at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa. Togasaki participated in coordinating the selections.
Considering the power Togasaki holds over the 300 females within the AKB48 organization, Shukan Bunshun describes his behavior as being a severe “crime.”
When reached for comment, the general manager denied both having an affair and smoking drugs. “You are having an affair with a college girl,” the magazine’s writer said to Togasaki, who responded: “She is not an amateur. It is fuzoku (prostitution). Is that the same as having an affair?”
The magazine asked Yasushi Akimoto, the group’s producer, whether he found such behavior to be problematic. The producer did not provide a response to the inquiry.
In September, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of AKS, the management agency of AKB48, over Bungeisha, which publishes Shukan Bunshun, regarding an article appearing in the magazine that insinuated the existence of a romantic relationship between the company’s president and then member Mariko Shinoda.