TOKYO -- The remaining four members of the pop group Tokio will continue to feature in Fukushima Prefecture public relations efforts to combat economically damaging rumors stemming from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told a May 7 news conference in the prefectural capital.
The announcement followed an admission last month by the group's fifth member, 46-year-old Tatsuya Yamaguchi, that he had kissed a high school girl against her will. Yamaguchi was suspended in late April by talent agency Johnny & Associates, which announced on May 7 that his contract had been terminated.
Gov. Uchibori stated in the news conference posted to YouTube that he was "pained" for the victim and her family over the incident, and that the question of whether to continue featuring Tokio members Tomoya Nagase, Taichi Kokubun, Shigeru Joshima and Masahiro Matsuoka in its public relations efforts "has been examined from many angles." In the end, the governor said it had been decided to "continue to rely on the efforts" of the four men "to help promote the high quality and taste of Fukushima Prefecture agricultural products."
The governor noted Tokio's "sincere" efforts to promote Fukushima goods starting soon after the March 2011 triple disaster, and that the decision to continue the prefecture's relationship with the group was based partly on this past service. (By Robert Sakai-Irvine, Staff Writer)