Why a pop idol's stand against her assault sparked outrage in Japan

Maho Yamaguchi, a member of the Japanese pop group NGT48

Tokyo, Japan (CNN)It was a meant to be a happy occasion to launch the New Year -- a meet and greet between a Japanese pop idol and her fans.

But Maho Yamaguchi didn't turn up to her pop group's event on January 6. In the following days, she apologized for her absence and went public as to the reason why: An alleged assault at the hands of two male fans.
"I am sorry to shock you guys. Some might get scared to hear what happened to me. I am really sorry. I wanted to help those who were going through the same experience," she posted on her Twitter account on January 8.
    Yamaguchi is a member of Niigata-based "idol group" NGT48, a sister group to the famous 48-member girl band AKB48. She claimed a member of her group had leaked her address to two male fans who assaulted her at home on December 8 last year.
    "I didn't do anything for a month because I didn't want to impose on everyone that supports me. I don't want you to dislike NGT (the pop band) ... That's because I believed they'd sort all this out," Yamaguchi added on Twitter.
    Following her online confession, Yamaguchi made a fleeting appearance at her pop group's three-year anniversary show on January 10 and apologized in person for "causing trouble" to her fans.
    A statement on NGT48's website last week confirmed that another member had told male fans when Yamaguchi might return home. The two men were arrested on suspicion of grabbing her face but later released. Yamaguchi insinuated her management company did nothing to deal with those involved in her ordeal.

    Apology stirs controversy

    Her apology comes amid growing attention in Japan to the issue of violence against women. In the days following her Twitter post, criticism was directed at Yamaguchi's management company, AKS, for its apparent mishandling of the incident -- and for her seemingly unnecessary omission of regret.
    In Japan, people often issue public apologies when they think they have disturbed "wa" or societal harmony. Speaking to CNN, Kukhee Choo, a cultural studies expert at Sophia University in Tokyo, said that Yamaguchi's apology has also helped her to garner more sympathy from the Japanese public.
    "There's a lot of affinity in Japan towards idol figures as the management companies choose very average, cute, young cheerful women. They want everyone to feel like this could be your daughter or next-door neighbor," said Choo.
    "If someone powerful has a hard time coming out, the average women in Japan thinks, what chance do I have? But idols are very relatable. This incident could help other young women to think, if she came out, then I can come out too."