NGT48 members says she was told that if she didn’t apologize, another idol would be made to read a letter of apology for her.

On Thursday, Niigata-based idol group NGT48 announced the results of an independent, third-party investigation into the incident in which group member Maho Yamaguchi was attacked by two men who ambushed her at her home and tried to force their way inside. Both men were taken into custody but released with no criminal charges filed against them.

The attack itself went unknown to the general public until the 23-year-old Yamaguchi herself took to Twitter to tell her story after waiting an entire month for NGT48’s managers to break their silence and issue a statement. “It doesn’t feel like I’m alive,” tweeted Yamaguchi, but the very next day she appeared on stage during a fan event to celebrate NGT48’s three-year anniversary and apologized for “causing a commotion.”

Yamaguchi’s tweets insinuated that the men who attacked her knew where she lived because other members of NGT48 passed her home address off to them. Managing company AKS (which also manages Akihabara’s AKB48, Japan’s most popular idol unit) has issued a statement that, according to the report from the third-party committee of lawyers and other specialists, a member or members of NGT48 did have inappropriate personal relationships with specific fans, and provided them with preferential treatment of some sort.

However, AKS also said that those members will not face punishment for their actions, saying that the fault lies with the company itself for not giving necessary guidance and protocols to the group’s members. The company also held a press conference on March 22, reiterating that the actions of members who’d had personal relationships with fans would be pardoned.

This turn of events is not sitting well with Yamaguchi. On the same day that the report and statement were posted to NGT48’s official website, Yamaguchi, who has removed any mention of affiliation with NGT48 from her Twitter profile, tweeted:

“Right now, [AKS] operating officer [Takumi] Matsumura is giving a press conference. Before the independent committee was formed, he promised me that ‘All of the members who had personal relationships with fans will be dismissed from NGT48.’

That was the purpose of the independent committee, and was why I was able to endure the situation for so long. There has been no communication with me about keeping the members in the group, and the questions I have asked about doing so have gone unanswered.”

Yamaguchi then went on to air another grievance, this one regarding her on-stage apology, which took place on January 11.

“On January 10, Operating Officer Matsumura requested that I make an apology. ‘If you don’t make an apology, at the anniversary event we’ll have someone else from your sub-team read a letter from you to make an apology on your behalf,’ he said.

I didn’t want any of the other NGT48 members to be made to do that, and that’s why I apologized.”

Yamaguchi also posted what she says is the apology Matsumura had crafted and intended to be presented as her words.

The prepared apology reads:

“I sincerely apologize for causing a commotion. I was able to get a lot of things off my chest and feel better, and there were some things that I misunderstood.

I think this has been a good opportunity for me. I’ll continue doing my best, and look forward to your support.”

The tone is quite a bit different from what Yamaguchi herself actually said in her on-stage apology, in which she reiterated that part of the reason she had spoken out about the attack was out of concern that other members of NGT48 might be in danger of similar things happening to them:

“As I explained the other day, there are people I want to protect, and so I ended talking about the things I did. This has caused trouble for people who have helped and supported me, and I would like to apologize for that.”

If true, Yamaguchi’s account is yet another case of callous treatment of her attack by AKS’ higher-ups, and likely one more reason she might be ready to walk away from the idol life for good.

Sources: Twitter/@maho_yamaguchi, NGT48 official website
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