January 10 marked NGT48's 3rd anniversary since its debut. A special performance was held at NGT48 Theater to celebrate the occasion.
It was uncertain whether Maho Yamaguchi, the Vice Captain of Team G, would be making an appearance. However, she got on stage with Yuki Kashiwagi to perform the song "Temodemo no Namida".
And then Yamaguchi deeply bowed her head for 5 seconds, apologizing for the trouble she has caused in recent days and being an inconvenience.
Earlier this week, the idol revealed that in December 2018 she had been assault by two male fans while returning home. The two were arrested for the assault, but were later released without being charged.
Since the incident, Yamaguchi's participation in activities has been on and off, but the reason behind her absence was not discussed. This changed on January 8 when she appeared on the digital broadcast "SHOWROOM". As she began to allude to the incident, the stream was abruptly cut off.
Afterwards, Yamaguchi took to Twitter to open up about the assault she experienced. The tweets were quickly deleted.
Netizens were swift to condemn NGT48's management for what many have perceived to be suppression of the truth, and forcing the victim of an assault to apologize despite being the one who was hurt.
It is believed that a fellow NGT48 group mate leaked Yamaguchi's personal information and told the assaulters when she would be going home, though no official or corroborating evidence has been presented to support this claim. This has fueled online theories that management wanted to bury this story to preserve the image of the group over helping out an assault victim.
Former NGT48 captain Rie Kitahara took to Twitter after Yamaguchi's apology. She defended and supported Yamaguchi, calling it "absolutely wrong" that she was made to apologize.