”I wanted to damage their public images” he says of misguided quest for justice for another member of the group.

Being an idol singer in Japan means being judged as much for your appearance and projected personality as your singing and dancing talent, and so anyone stepping into the industry will definitely benefit from having not only a pretty face, but also thick skin. When people make disrespectful comments about a particular performer, often her only course of action is to stay strong and not let it affect her, but this week one disgruntled idol fan’s online hatred has landed him in trouble with the law.

Officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department have arrested Akihiro Kaku, a 50-year-old resident of the Nishi Ochiai neighborhood of the city’s Shinjuku Ward. The arrest comes as a result of comments Kaku posted on Twitter in May of 2019.

Among the comments Kaku made via the social network was one in relation to Marina Nishigata, a member of Nigata Prefecture-based idol unit NGT48. “Using stimulants has ruined her thought process and sense of humanity, so no matter what you say to her, it’s pointless,” Kaku tweeted, with the term he used for “stimulants,” kakuseizai, generally being used in Japanese to refer to methamphetamines. Other comments Kaku posted insinuated that fellow NGT48 members Minami Kato, Yuka Ogino, Ayaka Tano, and Eno Yamada also were users of illegal drugs.

▼ Marina Nishigata

After becoming aware of the posts, NGT48’s management company requested assistance in determining the identity of the person who had sent the tweets, with the ensuing investigation leading to Kaku, who was arrested on July 21 on charges of libel. Kaku has admitted to the charges, saying “I suspected the five of them were involved in the assault of another NGT48 member, and I didn’t trust them. My aim was to damage their public images.”

While not mentioning her by name, Kaku is no doubt referring to Maho Yamaguchi, who was attacked by two men at the entrance to her home on December 8, 2018. After being asked by NGT48’s management company to wait to go public with the incident, Yamaguchi broke her silence one month later. Following her announcement, there was speculation among fans other members of the group had leaked Yamaguchi’s home address and/or schedule to her attackers, and Kaku apparently believed that the five women he accused of drug use in his tweets were responsible, despite internal and police investigations determining that no NGT48 member had any criminal culpability.

Deplorable as Kaku’s motivation may have been, some may find it surprising that you can get arrested in Japan for Twitter accusations that a celebrity uses drugs. However, the Japanese entertainment industry routinely takes an extremely strict anti-drug stance, with studios and music companies quickly cutting ties with even A-list talent if they’re found to have been in possession of illegal substances, and often also purging the performer’s completed works from circulation. As a result, Kaku’s accusations of drug use had the potential to severely damage the careers, and livelihoods, of the idols he was trying to spread false rumors about, resulting in proof that, hard as it may be to believe at times, there actually is a limit to what idol fans are allowed to get away with saying.

Source: NHK News Web, MSN/Mainichi Shimbun
Top image: Pakutaso
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