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Japan Footballer Ito Investigated After Sexual Assault Reports

The midfielder has denied the allegations, Kyodo news agency reported, quoting his lawyer as saying the claims were "totally unfounded".


(FILES) Japan's midfielder Junya Ito reacts after the friendly football match between Germany and Japan at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, central Germany, on September 9, 2023. (Photo by RONNY HARTMANN/AFP)
(FILES) Japan’s midfielder Junya Ito reacts after the friendly football match between Germany and Japan at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, central Germany, on September 9, 2023. (Photo by RONNY HARTMANN/AFP)

 

 

Japanese police said Thursday that they have launched an investigation into international footballer Junya Ito after local media reports said two women had accused him of sexual assault, a claim he denies.

“We received a criminal complaint against him and have started an investigation,” a police spokesman in Osaka working in the department covering crimes including sexual assaults told AFP.

He declined to give further details including what the complaint was about.

Ito is currently with the Japan team at the Asian Cup in Qatar.

The incident involving the two women is alleged to have taken place at a hotel in Osaka in June last year after a friendly between Japan and Peru, media reports said.

The midfielder has denied the allegations, Kyodo news agency reported, quoting his lawyer as saying the claims were “totally unfounded”.

While Ito did spend time with the two women, their accounts are inconsistent and there is no physical evidence supporting their allegations, Kyodo quoted the unnamed lawyer as saying.

Asked by AFP in Doha about Ito’s status with the team after Japan’s round of 16 match against Bahrain on Wednesday, national coach Hajime Moriyasu told reporters: “I’m not fully aware (of the allegation) yet. I’ll deal with it after examining it.”

The 30-year-old was named in the matchday squad but was an unused substitute as Japan won 3-1 to reach the quarter-finals.