TOKYO • J-pop star Tomohisa Yamashita is one of the most popular idols in Japan and the most-followed Japanese male artist on Instagram with more than 5.1 million followers.
So imagine the shock of his fans when a Japanese tabloid magazine claimed that Yamashita, 35, was seen drinking with underage girls and was even suspected of spending the night with one of them.
According to Shukan Bunshun, Yamashita was seen at a nightclub in Tokyo on July 30 with singer-actor Kazuya Kamenashi, who is from the same agency, Johnny & Associates, which represents him.
The magazine reported that there were several other people at the club at that time, with two girls who were underage. The legal drinking age in Japan is 20.
It said the party ended at about 4am, with Kamenashi, 34, returning home alone.
Yamashita checked into a hotel, with one of the underage girls spotted taking a taxi to the hotel later. The girl left the hotel at about 1pm, with Yamashita leaving about five minutes later.
Shukan Bunshun said the girl is a 17-year-old student who is also a part-time model.
Reacting to the reports, Johnny & Associates admitted in a statement that both Yamashita and Kamenashi were drinking with underage girls at that time.
The agency said both artists were not aware of their real age, as the girls were introduced to them by other friends at the club. The agency did not mention anything about Yamashita's stay in the hotel.
The Japanese media wondered if Yamashita would be suspended by the agency the way artists Hikaru Iwamoto and Keiichiro Koyama were for similar offences.
Other media said Yamashita may develop his career overseas after starring in The Head, HBO Asia's new thriller series set in the Antarctica.