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Maho Yamaguchi incident: Niigata governor wants to ‘return to normal’

NIIGATA (TR) – Following the emergence earlier this month of the alleged assault of Maho Yamaguchi, a popular member of Niigata Prefecture-based idol unit NGT48, the governor of the prefecture said he hopes for a “return to normal,” reports Sankei Sports (Jan. 17).

At a regular meeting on Wednesday, governor Hideyo Hanazumi said that NGT48 is one of the attractions for tourists coming to the prefecture. “I want things to return to normal as soon as the facts become clear,” the governor said. “I want the bad image to be wiped away and regular activities [to start again].”

The incident emerged via a series of tweets by Yamaguchi on January 9. In the tweets, the 23-year-old idol said that two men grabbed her by the face and shoved her down as tried to close the front door of her residence in Niigata City after she returned home alone from a show on December 8.

According to previous reports, Niigata Prefectural Police accused the men, both 25, of assault after the incident. During questioning, the pair denied the charges, saying they merely wanted to speak with Yamaguchi. They were released on December 29.

Maho Yamaguchi of NGT48
Maho Yamaguchi of NGT48 (Twitter)

Sisters of AKB48

NGT48 is a sister group of AKB48. Talent agency AKS, which manages both groups, initially declined to comment on the assault. However, on January 10 it issued a statement in which it recognized that the fact that Yamaguchi revealed details of the matter on social media was “due to our lack of correspondence with her and her fans.”

The agency has since announced the cancellation of multiple appearances by NGT48, including concerts scheduled for January 22 and 23.

The incident resulted in widespread criticism of AKS online. At a press conference on Monday, Takumi Matsumura, a representative of AKS, offered an apology and said that Etsuro Imamura, the manager of the NGT48’s theater in Niigata City, had been replaced with Maiko Hayakawa, who is also a representative of AKS.