Ex-YouTube star arrested in Tokyo for allegedly forcing school girl to send obscene photos

March 18, 2021 Mainichi Japan

TOKYO — Police arrested a former popular YouTuber on March 17 for allegedly forcing a high-school girl to send him obscene photos of herself.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)’s youth development division arrested Mahoto Watanabe, 28, of Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward, on suspicion of violating regulations on acts relating to child prostitution and child pornography.

Watanabe is accused of forcing a then 15-year-old first-year high school student to take three obscene photos of herself with a smartphone and send them to him on Nov. 16, 2020, while knowing that she was a minor. Police said Watanabe is withholding his plea to the allegation and quoted him as saying, “I will talk after consulting a lawyer.” Although he had the girl delete the photos to destroy the evidence, the MPD has apparently proved the wrongdoing by analyzing her smartphone.

According to the youth development division, Watanabe became acquainted with the girl, who was his fan, through social media in early November last year. He is suspected of making the girl send him about 30 to 40 photos in total after apparently telling her, “I will talk with you over the phone if you send me 30 photos and I will meet you in person if you send me 50 pics.” Watanabe allegedly told the girl that her taking photos was “training.”

The incident emerged after the girl consulted another YouTuber who later accused Watanabe on YouTube over the obscene photos on Jan. 21, 2021. Watanabe’s agency consulted with the MPD the following day, and canceled a contract with him.

Watanabe became a YouTuber around autumn 2011. The number of subscribers to his channel reached some 5 million, but he announced his retirement as an online star on March 2 for reasons including that he “inflicted a lot of suffering (on her).”

(Japanese original by Makoto Kakizaki and Buntaro Saito, City News Department)

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