Tokyo — Singer, actor and TV host Tomohisa Yamashita is one of the best known pop idols in Japan. He is the most popular Japanese male artiste on Instagram with more than 5.1 million followers.
It must, therefore, have been shocking to his fans when a Japanese tabloid magazine alleged that the 35-year-old was spotted drinking with underage girls and was even suspected of spending the night with one of them.
Shukan Bunshun reported that Yamashita was spotted at a nightclub in Tokyo on July 30 with singer-actor Kazuya Kamenashi, who is from the same agency, Johnny & Associates. It said there were other people in the club at the same time with two underage girls. In Japan the legal drinking age is 20. The party was reported to have ended at 4 am with Kamenashi, 34, returning home alone.
Yamashita reportedly checked into a hotel and one of the underage girls was seen taking a taxi to the hotel later. She left the hotel at about 1 pm and Yamashita five minutes later.
The magazine reported that the girl is a 17-year-old student who is also a part-time model.
Johnny & Associates released a statement admitting that both Yamashita and Kamenashi were drinking with underage girls at that time.
The agency said, however, that both men did not know how old the girls were because they were introduced to them by fTriends at the club. It did not mention anything about Yamashita’s stay in the hotel.
The Japanese media wondered if he would be suspended by the agency the way artistes 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 Antarctica.
Yamashita joined Johnny & Associates as a trainee in 1996. He made a small acting debut for NHK’s Shonentachi and has been active on Japanese TV since then. He made his official CD debut as part of idol group NEWS in 2004 and later debuted as a soloist in 2006.
He started on an acting career after an interesting portrayal as Kusano Akira for the hit drama Nobuta Wo Produce (2005). In 2006, his biggest break as an actor came when he landed his first lead role for the popular drama Kurosagi.
In 2011, Johnny & Associates announced that Yamashita and Ryo Nishikido were no longer members of NEWS and that Yamashita would be concentrating on his solo projects as actor and solo singer/idol. /TISG