SEIGO, the concert director for Nogizaka46, has recently resigned from his position after he came under fire for comments made about his behavior by member Hayakawa Seira on a radio program on May 21. Essentially, she seemingly inadvertently aired him out, which has been recapped well in the following Twitter thread.
Adding onto the part about downplaying the injury to Kakehashi Sayaka, here’s the statement by management calling the injury minor.
Management issued a statement on the official website, “At today’s ‘Midsummer National Tour 2022’ Tokyo performance, Kakehashi Sayaka fell from the stairs on the 1st base bench and suffered a minor injury. She was examined at the hospital, she was conscious and able to speak. Considering the impact of her injury, Kakehashi Sayaka will be canceling performances from tomorrow onwards, but we will operate the concert with safety measures as our top priority. She would like to apologize for causing a great deal of concern to the visitors.”
Just last month, Kakehashi released an update that goes into detail on the extent of her injuries, as nine months later she’s still on the mend.
Kakehashi wrote, “When I fell, I broke a few bones that were part of my face and had lacerations in two places. I also lost a tooth and the three around me were broken and I lost nerve function”.
“I am undergoing treatment to make the sutured scar less noticeable, treatment for teeth, rehabilitation for facial muscles, etc.” At the end, she wrote, “The doctors at the hospital are kind and the staff at Nogizaka are doing their best to support me, so I would be happy if I could continue to work hard toward a complete recovery”.
I doubt there would be many around these parts who’d be unwilling to believe a company was treating idols like shit and covering up serious issues, but describing those injuries as minor is just deranged.
It’s also mentioned that the reason he’s still around despite all this being common knowledge is that he’s seen as an amazing director that’s been working for decades with the company, and thus also has Yasushi Akimoto‘s trust. Perhaps just as importantly, the members tend to defend him as well due to this perception.
Anyway, all that leads us to the past couple days, where management of Nogizaka46 released a statement, saying that SEIGO’s words, actions, and instructions went too far, but they claim that he did not make a statement blaming the members for Kakehashi Sayaka falling down, in reference to the stage accident from the Summer of 2022. SEIGO requested resignation and wasn’t technically fired.
Later, in a statement posted to SEIGO’s company site (without a specific link, perhaps to be able to erase it later), he acknowledged that he made inappropriate remarks about the appearance of a member, and also that he gave strict instructions to members like “dance properly”, “don’t be lazy”, and “don’t make ugly faces” when members weren’t smiling at a monitor. SEIGO then apologizes to the members and the fans who were hurt by this. However, like the company, he denies blaming them for the fall of Kakehashi Sayaka, stating that Hayakawa Seira wasn’t at the venue and thus she misunderstood his sentiment. Though he also says he feels responsible for misleading the members and apologizes for that.
Needless to say, anybody with a modicum of familiarity with how these companies and executives operate know that it’s not only reasonable to assume everything SEIGO was accused of is true, but that it was also probably magnitudes worse in reality. Given the context behind this with regards to verbal abuse being normalized, and given that even just in regards to this incident the company has lied (about the extent of the injuries), it’s difficult to not conclude that SEIGO being forced out now is due to them finding the work environment was untenable and/or they want to get ahead of it so that no worse mess comes out in the future.
As you can imagine, there’s valid concern about Hayakawa Seira now, and one can only hope that she doesn’t suffer any kind of retribution for this incident. Fans can at least make a difference in terms of making sure her public-facing activities continue, even if it’s hard to know what’s happening behind the scenes, and hopefully they do just that.