In his first appearance since the fight, Ichikawa Ebizo, 33, appeared before the press in Tokyo with one bloodshot eye on Tuesday, and said he had been severely beaten by a former leader of a motorcycle gang during a drinking binge. It will take him two-months to recover from his wounds — a broken left cheekbone, head injuries and impaired vision.
“While I was being beaten and then running away, I thought maybe I was dying, Ebizo said.”
His name is one of the most prestigious in the Kabuki world. Ebizo is the 11th in a line dating back to the 17th century. He is well-known in Japan as a Kabuki star and is often seen on prime-time television commercials, some of which have been cancelled due to the uproar. His real name is Azumi Fukuoka.
According to reports, Ebizo told police he had started drinking with friends in Tokyo at about 11:30 p.m. and met up with another group, then continued drinking alone with 26-year-old Rion Ito, a member of that group. Ebizo was punched while “helping Ito,” then he suddenly attacked Ebizo because “both of us were drunk, so I might have not looked like I was helping him.” Ebizo’s memory of the incident was foggy, and he thinks he might have even been attacked by several people. He added that he wasn’t violent at all.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, Ito, 26, has admitted to the assault allegations saying, “I got furious at him and punched him at the bar. I wasn’t very drunk.”
Ebizo denied that he picked a fight with Ito, but police are now investigating the possibility that the actor provoked him.
“It all sounds murky to me,” Ito Yamada, a Kabuki fan, told Majirox News. “There are so many discrepancies between the restaurant witnesses and him. For example, the restaurant staff said the other guy ran away before Ebizo ran away. Somebody is lying. I don’t trust (Ebizo) because there are too many different stories about what really happened. Ebizo should get his story straight.”
Ebizo apologized for the cancelation of his special New Year’s performances in Kyoto. “I lacked the restraint of a full-fledged member of society and ended up canceling my performances,” he said. “I am sorry for causing people such trouble, and I think all this resulted from my arrogance.”
Ito, alleged to be a member of a motorcycle gang based in Tokyo, was arrested Friday night.
Photos taken by Dave Powell of the press and police waiting for the suspect to turn himself in.