What was meant to be a brief but shameful public apology by the parent of a rape suspect turned into a lengthy feeding frenzy by the media.
On 26 August at 9:00 a.m., actress Atsuko Takahata held a press conference to apologize for her son Yuta Takahata. Yuta, who has also appeared in several TV shows and movies, is accused of raping a hotel employee while filming in Gunma prefecture.
These types of press conference where a parent public apologizes for their children’s actions — even if they are adults — is not uncommon in Asian cultures for high profile cases. However, this particular apology got especially out of hand.
Atsuko is also a well-known actress, and, as a result, a swarm of entertainment reporters showed up at the press conference all hungry for their own sound bite. Question after question was hurled at Atsuko regarding her relationship with her son and what they spoke about after he was arrested. What should have been the worst five minutes of Atsuko Takahata’s life turned into the worst 70 minutes instead.
Many who watched the conference noticed how questions were slanted to vilify Yuta. Bearing in mind that the evidence against Yuta appears to be damning and he himself is reported to have confessed, saying he couldn’t control himself, it’s hard not to vilify him. However, such questions are better suited for his lawyers than his mother.
Here’s what viewers had to say:
“Those aren’t things you should ask a mother.”
“Aren’t these questions a little harsh?”
“Reporters throwing these awful questions like it’s nothing.”
“As usual, the mass-media is just a bunch of ass-media.”
“Those reporters are being way too harsh on her.”
“These interviewers are pieces of trash.”
The nearly unanimous disgust with the way Atsuko was treated led many to question why parents are obliged to apologize for their children to begin with. On one hand, some could argue that it is a deterrent to people considering a criminal act or that criminals are products of their parents’ raising.
On the other hand, at a certain age, people should be accountable for themselves, and, at 22, so should Yuta Takahata. Whatever value public apologies by parents has in society, we may soon see less of them after the treatment of Atsuko Takahata.