Honoka Omoto was a member of a local idol group called Enoha Girls that promoted Ehime Prefecture’s agricultural industry. This past March, Omoto died by suicide, and now her family is taking their daughter’s former production company to court for damages.
According to Asahi News, mother and plaintiff Yukie Omoto is quoted as saying, “On the morning of the day she died, Honoka said she was scared to see the president.”
Omoto joined the group in 2015 but increasingly found it difficult to balance idol life and school work. According to her family, last year she was allegedly impelled to work ten hour days at the expense of her studies.
The family also claims that Omoto wanted to leave the group and one production company staffer reportedly replied, “Seriously, I will hit you if you mention such nonsense again.”
Omoto hoped to transfer from a correspondence school to a typical high school, and the production company initially had offered to lend her the necessary money. That offer, the family alleges, was rescinded once she mentioned her desire to leave the group.
The lawsuit also alleges that Takahiro Sasaki, representative director of the H Project production company, told Omoto she would have to pay a penalty of 100 million yen” ($1,252,500) if she left Enoha Girls.
Asahi adds that H Project issued a statement about the allegations, acknowledging that Omoto did work “in the early morning and late night.” However, the company denies it made her choose work over school. The company did state it had “reproved her for her behaviour.” However, H Project claimed it “never power-harassed her.”
As for the school fees, the company claims the offer was made, but Omoto turned it down.
In an interview, Sasaki said he felt responsible for not being able to prevent this. “Some parts of the claims by the bereaved family are not true,” he also said.