Japanese film director arrested over sexual assault allegations

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A person is standing and their hands are handcuffed behind their back.

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A Japanese film director has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting an aspiring actress, marking the latest case in an industry embroiled in alleged sexual abuse.

Hideo Sakaki, 53, also a representative director at a talent agency, was arrested Feb. 20 for allegedly assaulting a woman in her 20s under the pretense of meeting to give her acting advice at a condominium in Tokyo’s Minato Ward on the night of May 23, 2016, according to Tokyo police.

Sakaki has denied the allegations, calling them “false accusations.” The police believe Sakaki abused his position as a film director and are investigating several other complaints against him.

Using the acting profession as a pretext, Sakaki allegedly told the woman that he wanted to check whether she had tattoos and asked her to take off her clothes, saying she may have to get used to nudity in her future acting career, the police said.

The woman met Sakaki in the fall of 2015 at an actors’ workshop. She consulted the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department through a lawyer in September 2022 and filed a complaint in June 2023.

Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine reported in March 2022 that Sakaki was suspected of coercing multiple actresses into performing sexual acts. The report led to the cancellation of the release of his film “Honeymoon,” which deals with domestic sexual violence.

The film industry has been rocked by a number of actors and others coming forward as part of the #MeToo movement.

A survey on gender and labor issues in the Japanese film industry showed last year that 49 out of 685 actors and others involved with the industry said they had witnessed instances of sexual assault or harassment by directors and producers.

Some 22 people claimed that they had experienced sexual assault or harassment by a film director or producer, with the majority of the claims made by women, according to the survey by the Japanese Film Project.

Sakaki, also an actor, has appeared in several movies and television dramas, including playing a leading role in the movie “ALIVE,” according to the talent agency’s Website.

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