Umekawa Haruo, Japanese film producer, accused of sexual harassment:
Japanese film producer Umekawa Haruo has been accused of sexual harassment in a report by Bunshun Online, a sister site to weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun.
According to an abbreviated web version of a longer story set to appear in print, Umekawa pressured actresses for sexual favors in exchange for being cast in his films.
The veteran producer has been active since the 1990s and is an associate of cult director Sono Sion. On Monday, Sono was accused of sexual harassment by news and gossip site Shukan Josei PRIME.
Umekawa’s credits include the 1990 independent drama “Swimming Upstream,” the 2008 Sono International Festival hit “Love Exposure,” and his 2011 drama “Themis.” Umekawa’s most recent credit is Netflix’s lesbian-themed road movie “Ride or Die.”
The multiple accusations against prominent figures seem to suggest that the #MeToo movement is a latecomer to Japan, where the entertainment industry has already managed to sweep many such issues under the rug.
On Wednesday, Sono posted a handwritten statement on his company’s website apologizing for the “inconvenience and disruption” caused by the Shukan Josei report. But he also said “many points in the article are not true” and indicated his intention to take legal action.
“I am aware of my lack of conscience as a director and my lack of consideration for the people around me, and I would like to consider how I should behave in the future,” he added.
As Sono released his mea culpa, actor Tak Sakaguchi apologized via YouTube for his role in an alleged sexual assault by Sono that took place 10 years ago. Sakaguchi confessed to serving as a pimp, bringing the victim to Sono and leaving her alone with him.
Charges of sexual harassment and assault were also recently leveled against in-demand actor Kinoshita Houka and director Sakaki Hideo, resulting in the release of Sakaki’s two most recent films, “Confession,” being postponed indefinitely. and “Harbor Light”.