Hitoshi Matsumoto, one half of the popular comedy duo Downtown, is set to go on hiatus, his management revealed on Monday. The news comes less than two weeks after Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine published a story quoting two women who alleged that Matsumoto, 60, forced them into sexual activities during private parties at an upscale hotel in Tokyo in 2015. One of the accusers alleged forced oral sex while the other claimed she was forcibly kissed. Matsumoto has vehemently denied the allegations.

Hitoshi Matsumoto Denies All Accusations

“I’ll fight because it is totally groundless,” he wrote on X yesterday. On the same day came the news that he was taking a break from entertainment activities. “I would like to go on hiatus as I will not be able to dedicate myself to comedy as I currently do while simultaneously engaging with the trial,” Matsumoto said, according to Yoshimoto Kogyo. The talent agency apologized for causing trouble to broadcasters and fans, adding that broadcasting companies could choose whether to air already recorded programs featuring Matsumoto.

Other High-Profile Exposés

Yoshimoto Kogyo is also considering taking legal action against Shukan Bunshun. This will come as no surprise to the weekly tabloid, an organization that’s been sued numerous times, including in 2002 when Johnny & Associates took legal action against the magazine for defamation. Bunshun ran a series on sexual harassment allegations against the organization’s founder, Johnny Kitagawa. The Tokyo High Court eventually ruled that nine of the 10 claims made in the exposé were true. However, Kitagawa avoided a criminal investigation as the statute of limitations had passed.

In 2022, Shukan Josei Prime published an article with stories by two unnamed actresses who claimed they’d been sexually assaulted by famed movie director Sion Sono. One of them told the publication he attempted to force her to have sex and engaged in sexual acts in front of her. The other said he coerced her into sex on the premise of getting a film role. Sono sued the publisher for damages. A year ago, Shukan Bunshun reported that one of the accusing actresses had committed suicide.

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