Japan outraged after pop star apologises after being assaulted in her home
Last week, Yamaguchi Maho, a member of the Japanese girl band, NGT48, apologised to fans for speaking about being assaulted.
Maho - who is often referred to as "Mahohon" - sparked controversy with her statement, which has forced the nation to address the treatment of women in the nation - specifically in the music industry.
The 23-year-old allegedly returned home on December 8th to find to men waiting for her. Maho claims that the men grabbed her face. They were later released after stating that they had simply wanted to speak with the pop star. Following the incident, Maho took to social media to share her suspicion that a fellow member of the band had informed fans about her schedule.
Maho initially kept quiet about the alleged assault, until she addressed it publicly on Twitter and during a live stream - which was cut short. She asserted that she hoped she could be honest with fans, and insinuated that her management agency, AKS, hadn't responded appropriately to the situation.
"I am sorry to shock you guys. Some might get scared to hear what happened to me. I am really sorry. I wanted to help those who were going through the same experience," she wrote on Twitter.
"I didn't do anything for a month because I didn't want to impose on everyone that supports me. I don't want you to dislike NGT (the pop band) ... That's because I believed they'd sort all this out."
However, following her band's three year anniversary show - which was held on January 10th - Maho proceeded to apologise to fans for "causing trouble".
The apology, naturally, created a furore among fans who were quick to point out that the 23-year-old was being victim blamed. A hashtag, #JusticeForMahohon was created, as well as a petition on Change.org in support of the singer, which called for her manager's resignation. At the time of its closure - January 13th - it had garnered over 53,000 signatures.
"The Japanese Idol Industry is something that has needed a massive overhaul. It was clear after that member of AKB48 was publicly shamed, shaved her head/apologized for having a boyfriend that the industry is very sexist and not willing to protect these girls #JusticeForMahohon," one Twitter user wrote in response to the story, while another added "The girl was assaulted by 2 men when she returned home. She reported to the police.the men were arrested and released. She reported to management but nothing was done. She told the world yesterday and made to apologise today."
"I'm not a NGT48 fan but still I'm saying this. NO GIRL SHOULD BE APOLOGIZING FOR EXPOSING THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW SHE'S BEEN ASSAULTED BY MEN AND DIDN'T GET JUSTICE FROM THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE PROTECTING HER. STOP BLAMING, SILENCING THE VICTIMS!" a third wrote.
Following a year dominated by the #MeToo and Time's Up movements - Maho's insistence on sharing her experience, and the subsequent backlash that her public apology caused indicate that we still have a way to go when it comes to speaking about sexual harassment and assault.