“I just let the girls into my car.”

Earlier this month a member of Nagoya-based idol group SKE48 took a fan to task for openly telling her how much he enjoyed looking at her thighs. This week, it’s the actions of a member of SKE48’s management company who someone would like to examine the appropriateness of, and that someone is the police.

On Tuesday, Kazuya Ebine, an executive with Tokyo-based entertainment and sports management company Zest, was placed under arrest by officers from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department on charges of child prostitution and violation of child pornography prohibition laws. Investigators say that arrest stems from an incident that took place last fall when Ebine found two teenage girls posting online about looking for partners for enjo kousai or “compensated companionship,” often used as a euphemism for underage escort and prostitution services.

After making contact with the teens, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police’s Juvenile Investigation Division alleges that on November 23 the 58-year-old Ebine paid them 5,000 yen (US$46.73) and “performed obscene acts” with them in a car parked in a parking structure in the Machida section of Tokyo, which borders Kanagawa Prefecture. At the time, one of the girls was a 17-year-old second-year high school student, while the other was 15 years old and designated as “unemployed,” implying she was not currently enrolled in any school (compulsory education in Japan ends after junior high, equivalent to the ninth grade of the U.S. school system).

Neither girl was/is affiliated with SKE48. The group currently has 85 official and trainee members on its roster, most around 20 years old, but many under 18 and one who would have been only 10 in November.

Though Ebine is an executive at Zest, he is not the company’s president, and the organization released a statement on the day of his arrest:

“Today, it was announced that an executive of our company, Kazuya Ebine, was arrested on charges of child prostitution and violation of the child pornography prohibition.

We sincerely regret that one of our executives has been arrested in such circumstances, and we deeply apologize for the distress this has caused our artists, athletes, media talent, actors, fans, collaborative organizations, group companies, and any individuals who have dealings with our company.

We are currently confirming the details of what transpired, but as this is a grave matter, as of today the executive [Ebine] has been dismissed. We would also like to state that as his role was in overseas business development, he had no direct contact with any of our performers.

We will be giving our full cooperation to investigators and giving through guidance to all of our executives and employees as strive to regain your trust.”

Ebine, meanwhile, maintains that he is innocent of the accusations, and that “I just let the girls into my car,” though it’s hard to imagine what sort of honorable intentions an upstanding citizen would have for inviting two underage girls he doesn’t know to sit with him inside his car in a parking garage.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko, Tokyo Shimbun, Jiji, SKE48 official website, Zest
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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