Japan football player Junya Ito has left Japan's national team during the Asian Cup following an accusation he sexually assaulted two women last year, the Japan Football Association said Thursday.

The JFA, which noted discrepancies between the different accounts of the incident, said, "This demands a cautious response. This action was out of consideration for his mental and physical condition."

The women claimed he sexually assaulted them last year, but Ito's lawyer said the player has denied their claims and has filed a criminal complaint for false allegations.

An investigative source said Wednesday the 30-year-old is under investigation by Osaka police after the women filed a criminal complaint against Ito following a report by a major publisher's news website of non-consensual sexual conduct involving the women.

Reims' Junya Ito passes the ball during the first half of a French Cup football match against Toulouse on Feb. 8, 2023, in Toulouse, France. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

According to the report, Ito, who played for Japan at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is suspected of having engaged in such sexual conduct involving the women, who were drunk, at a hotel in Osaka in June last year after playing for Japan against Peru.

The report, first posted on Daily Shincho on Wednesday, came hours before Japan's round-of-16 match at the Asian Cup against Bahrain in Doha. Ito, a midfielder with the French club Stade de Reims, remained on the bench for the first time in the tournament as Japan won 3-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

Ito's lawyer said the allegations are "totally unfounded." While Ito did spend time with the two women, the complaint states that their accounts are inconsistent, and there is no physical evidence supporting their allegation.

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu told reporters after the match Wednesday, "I'm not fully aware (of the allegation) yet. I'll deal with it after examining it."

The website is run by the publisher of the major weekly Shukan Shincho, whose latest issue hit newsstands Thursday.

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