Former Speed Member Imai Eriko Gets Caught in an Affair

Speed, a now defunct girl group from Okinawa, was the very first group that got me hooked on JPop. I had and still do have all their singles, albums, photo books, many dramas they starred in, many magazines featuring them, and even a novel and comic book that most people don’t even know existed. If not for them, I probably wouldn’t even be in Japan now.

Following their disband in 2000, I continued to purchase their solo CDs for a while before I realized I was wasting money since I don’t even listen to them.

Years later, some got married; some disappeared; some tried to regroup; some gave birth; and some got divorced. Imai Eriko was one who got divorced with a child who is hearing-impaired, so she picked up sign language to communicate with her son and even went on NHK’s language programs to teach it.

Last year, she ran for an election with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for the upper house and won. Since, she has been receiving numerous support from young people, parents of physically disadvantaged children, and unwed mothers as a politician. That is until recently, when news of her having an affair with Hashimoto Ken, a politician in Hyogo prefecture, things took a turn.

While Imai isn’t married, the man involved has a wife with two children. Following the revelation, both parties have stepped out to say they are not having an affair. Hashimoto claims to have an estranged relationship with his wife and already intended to proceed with filing for divorce. Both Imai and Hashimoto proclaim that nothing has happened between them even though they also acknowledge mutual interest and respect, and Imai revealed that Hashimoto has requested for them to officially date.

The ruling LDP has been in a lot of trouble recently with Prime Minister Abe being allegedly involved in a scandal of favoring of his friend’s opening of a new veterinarian school over other applications, Defence Minister Inada accused of hiding ground troop logs in South Sudan, Minister Toyota verbally abusing her secretary, and now Imai is now accused of having an affair with a married man who is also an LDP member. And this is not exhaustive. The LDP’s support has fallen to a record low under 40% and even the role of Tokyo Governor, said to hold greater power than the Prime Minister is held by Koike Yuriko, of a different party. So unless the government does something significantly beneficial (or divert everyone’s attention to something else), we might expect a new government come the next election.

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