Dragon Ball Voice Actor Tōru Furuya’s Affair and Abortion Scandal Explained

toru furuya sex scandal and affair and abortion with fan

Dragon Ball actor Tōru Furuya, the Japanese voice of Yamcha, has confessed to cheating on his wife with a mistress half his age, hitting her, and persuading her to have an abortion. Read my explanation!

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024 in Japan, voice actor Tōru Furuya posted on his X account (formerly Twitter) that he had a committed a great sin and would like to apologize for it.

He says he cheated on his wife with a younger woman from 2019 to 2023.

Also, that at one point he hit this woman during a heated argument.

Furthermore, that he impregnated her and then pressured her into having an abortion during an early term of the pregnancy.

Here is the full message and my translation, followed by additional details and my cultural analysis.

Tōru Furuya’s Message

toru furuya sex scandal and affair and abortion with fan confession

© Tōru Furuya

Tōru Furuya wrote, “I was recently interviewed by the Weekly Bunshun. I would like to apologize and come clean about the great sin I committed.

I had an affair with a fan for a period of four and a half years, until September of last year. I was attracted to her sincere support, so I casually contacted her and started a relationship with her.

During our relationship, there was one time when we had an argument and I couldn’t help but raise my hand against her. It was the worst thing I could have done as an adult, and as a human being.

I also made the unforgivable mistake of terminating my pregnancy with her.

I am truly, truly sorry for having deeply hurt this woman physically and mentally.

I cannot apologize enough for betraying the trust of the fans who have supported me for many years—disappointing them, hurting them, and tarnishing their honor. I have betrayed the trust of all parties involved and have brought great dishonor to myself and others.

I will spend the rest of my life making amends with all my heart.

I am prepared to receive any punishment.

I apologize for the inconvenience I have caused everyone.

— Tōru Furuya”


toru furuya sex scandal and affair and abortion with fan ms. a

Tōru Furuya with Ms. A, © Weekly Bunshun

Tōru Furuya said he was interviewed by the Weekly Bunshun (Japanese: Shūkan Bunshun, 週刊文春). This is a Japanese weekly tabloid magazine whose investigative reporters dig up entertainment and political scandals in order to attract reader’s attention and sell more copies or receive more website visits. They have a somewhat notorious reputation, tempered by genuine exposés.

In this Weekly Bunshun article posted a few hours ago, on May 22, the paper reveals that the now-70-year-old actor had an affair with a now-37-year-old fan, who they named ‘Ms. A’ for the sake of anonymity.

For background context: In addition to playing Yamcha in Dragon Ball (1986), Tōru Furuya is also the famous voice actor of Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon (1994), Sabo in One Piece (1999), and more recently as Tōru Amuro in the film Detective Conan: The Darkest Nightmare (2016). On a related note, Tōru Amuro’s name is an homage to the famous real person who voices the character, and his most famous role in Japan, via Gundam.

Tōru Furuya once married voice actress Mami Koyama in 1976, who is the voice of Arale Norimaki in Akira Toriyama’s Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball anime adaptations—but they later divorced in 1983. He then married voice actress Satomi Majima on March 23, 1985, who was also in Mobile Suit Gundam, and they have been married ever since, with one daughter.

Why did Ms. A come forward? She confessed to the Weekly Bunshun about her affair with Tōru Furuya, saying:

“When I see an innocent child on the street, I remember that day [of my abortion]. It’s also painful to see him [Furuya] surrounded by fans, acting without a care in the world.”
– Ms. A

She continued, “I don’t want him to do that again [to someone else]. I decided to tell you everything because I don’t want it to happen again.” While speaking of this, the paper says that she “struggled to squeeze out the words.”

Ms. A told the tabloid that she was familiar with Tōru Furuya’s name because she loved anime, but only became a fan of his after hearing his voice in the Detective Conan movie. “Before I knew it, I had gone to see [the sequel] Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer (2018) 45 times, and was moved to tears by Furuya-san’s performance.”

She then sent unsolicited fan letters and gifts to his agency, Aoni Production. This is the same agency that represents most of the Dragon Ball voice actors, who are veterans in the industry. Furuya-san received these gifts, and was moved by her “sincere support.”

Then on New Year’s Day, 2019, Furuya-san messaged her, saying, “This is Tōru Furuya♪ Sorry for the sudden text message!” This was the beginning of their relationship.

She explained to the paper that during this affair, they once entered into a heated argument while inside Tōru Furuya’s villa, and he hit her two or three times with the palm of his hand.

During their argument, Ms. A said she wanted to go home, which caused Furuya-san to lose control and become fearful that this incident would be exposed to the police, so he took away her cell phone. Even though the police later did show up at his villa [for unspecified reasons], they did not arrest him or charge him with domestic abuse, and so deemed it a couple’s quarrel.

Then in March, 2021, Ms. A discovered that she was pregnant. Furuya-san questioned whether the child was his, and persuaded her to have an abortion. He accompanied Ms. A to the hospital and paid the costs for the operation, along with providing his condolences. She said he attempted to comfort her by saying, “This [early-term pregnancy] cannot be regarded as human life.”

After she spoke with the Weekly Bunshun, Furuya-san was contacted by the paper and agreed to an 80-minute interview, saying, “I’m ready.”

toru furuya sex scandal and affair and abortion with fan ms. a interview

Tōru Furuya interview, © Weekly Bunshun

Furuya-san explained to their reporter that he was reticent to have the abortion and at one point refused to sign the operation consent form, but later signed it. Also, that he never considered marrying Ms. A [and divorcing his current wife] because he felt that he was too old and could not bring her a happy life.

Prior to the interview, Tōru Furuya confessed everything to his family. He said that his wife condemned his stupidity and recklessness, and will now have to survive living with him while being humiliated in society. His daughter said that she would still support him.

Voice Actor Scandals

This is a scandalous surprise that is tangentially related to Dragon Ball on account of Tōru Furuya having played the character of Yamcha for almost 40 years.

This is not the type of article I normally report on, and I considered not doing so. However, it is somewhat similar to the 2019 sex scandal surrounding American voice actor Vic Mignogna, the one-time voice of Broly.

In both these cases I felt it was my responsibility to report on it for archival purposes, because fans may want to know about it, and because it may have repercussions on the franchise if the voice of Yamcha is to be recast—as Vic was. Whatever happens, we’ll have a record that explains why.

The difference between the scandals is that this may be the last we’ll hear of Tōru Furuya’s scandal in public, while Vic’s scandal lasted for years in the legal courtrooms and in the court of public opinion. Per Japanese custom, it will likely be resolved behind closed doors.

In Vic’s case, he denied all wrong doing, and the issue was complicated by the #MeToo Movement and the American political divide between liberals and conservatives. Because of this, there are still fans who argue about it.

Conversely, Tōru Furuya has confessed to doing these things. Albeit, after his mistress came forward.

In any case, it’s straightforward and done.

Cultural Analysis

toru furuya sex scandal and affair and abortion with fan ms. a interview

Tōru Furuya interview, © Weekly Bunshun

While you could argue that there’s no excuse for this behavior on either side of the relationship, the cultural context in Japan is different from how we would perceive a similar situation in the West.

In Japan, it’s not uncommon for older men to have affairs with younger women, and it’s even expected.

According to Metropolis Japan, “Unlike the West and its Judeo-Christian values in which sexuality is morally charged, Japan does not run on this idea of morality—at least not in the way the West understands it. In fact, an internal survey carried out by Ashley Madison found that 84 percent of women and 61 percent of men in Japan report their extramarital affairs as beneficial to their marriage.”

In Japanese society, it’s not the betrayal of the affair that hurts. Many young people marry because it’s expected that you should be married by your late-20’s or 30’s, and it is a measure of societal success and adulthood. People also get married to have children, not because they’re in love. If romance was ever present, it ended at marriage or after childbirth.

Therefore, by that point in their marriage they may even sleep in separate beds or agree to have a sexless marriage, or to seek sex elsewhere. Because of this agreement, there is no ethical condemnation or sense of betrayal that goes along with an affair.

There’s also Japan’s history of concubines and geisha, their multitude of Love Hotels, hostess clubs, and their more favorable attitudes toward paying sex-workers for their services. I’ve read anecdotes that say: ‘If you pay for it, it isn’t cheating.’

Japanese culture is built in such a way that life is a series of separate circles of responsibility, and indulging in one circle of sexual behaviors is not in conflict with the circle that contains marriage. Just as you can be a good office worker during the day, and then flat-out drunk and bellicose outside of work at night. No one judges you for the drunken behavior because they are separate circles. So, you can use sex workers or have an affair and still be faithful to your spouse in the ways that are expected.

So the affair itself isn’t the problem, it’s the clumsy manner in which they do it, or get caught doing it. That’s because this exposes their family’s business to the public, bringing shame and dishonor to their family’s name. The circles of life get crossed over one another, when they should be kept separate.

I have not lived in Japan or had a relationship with a Japanese woman, but from what I can tell from various articles and anecdotes on the topic, the general consensus among Japanese people on the issue of cheating is this: ‘I don’t mind if you cheat, but I don’t want to find out.’ If they found out, only then would it be a breach of trust.

Nevertheless, while one-night stands or prostitutes are more tolerated, long-standing affairs tend to be frowned upon.

As a result of these cultural differences, there likely will not be a similar social media uprising as their was with Vic Mignogna. Nor heated arguments or resentment among the Japanese Dragon Ball fanbase that Tōru Furuya should be fired from his role as the voice of Yamcha. Nor a counter-argument that he should remain on the cast for whatever reason.

The physical assault that they both attested to seems to have been an isolated incident using the palm of his hand, and not a repeated case of domestic abuse with punches, kicks, or objects. No charges were filed, and they evidently agreed to move forward with their relationship.

And in Japan, it’s legal to have abortions up to 22 weeks under dire circumstances or economic hardship. It’s unclear what the circumstances were in this situation, but it was a personal matter between them and their doctor. Not a criminal one.

What is clear is that they ended their relationship in September, 2023, and we’re hearing about it now because Ms. A came forward to tell this tabloid about it, and Furuya-san was then forced to confront this otherwise secret issue head-on and confess to his family.

He then preceded to get ahead of the story by admitting it to the world on his social media a few hours before it was published.

At this point there’s no indication that Tōru Furuya will be recast as Yamcha, but I’ll let you know if he is.

Scandalous Actors

One lesson from this scandal is that the voices behind our favorite characters are real people. They portray certain behaviors on the screen, and do other behaviors in real life.

This isn’t the first time that famous actors, comedians, or other beloved household names have later been caught in a sex scandal. In these cases, I always wonder if their current behavior taints their prior work in the eyes of fans.

It’s also an example of how fans can become attached to an actor who they don’t even know based only on the actor’s performance of these characters, written and directed by other people. In this case, the fan formed an obsessive attachment to who she perceived as Tōru Furuya, watched his movies dozens of times, sent him gifts, and sought to form a relationship with him. Then, for whatever reason, he reciprocated.

Now that you know what happened, does this change your opinion of Tōru Furuya, or of his performance as Yamcha and other characters? If so, will you be able to separate the man from his work?

Given that almost all of Tōru Furuya’s voice acting work related to Dragon Ball was finished prior to his affair starting in 2019, and there hasn’t been much anime work since then, I’m curious to see if his fans will look at the chronology of these events and call it a non-issue.

Will they condemn him or support him?

On the one hand, he’s voicing a character in a children’s cartoon and is perhaps expected to maintain certain ethical or kid-friendly values in his personal life.

On the other hand, he’s human, had a relationship with a consenting adult (even if she’s much younger), and like everyone else, makes mistakes. He now admits those mistakes have brought him great dishonor, and he wishes to atone for them.

I’ve seen comments from fans saying that they’re surprised Tōru Furuya could ‘show this woman a good time’ at his age. And some have argued that Furuya-san cheating on his wife is in keeping with the character of Yamcha cheating on Bulma when they were dating.

Of course, Tōru Furuya is not a cartoon character. Besides which, that line of thinking is no longer acceptable to express in this day and age without the anonymous nature of the Internet. On top of that, many people have been hurt by the behavior of everyone involved.

And where you stand on the issues of affairs, violence against women, or abortions could be more than enough for him to have crossed your ethical line and never be allowed back. Especially when all three are combined.

How do you view it?

Update: May 22, 9:10 PM EST: Two American conventions have announced the cancellation of Tōru Furuya as their featured guest. They are MomoCon in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Florida Supercon in Miami, Florida.