Johnny & Associates Head Apologizes After Renewed Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Johnny Kitagawa – News

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BBC 2 airs documentary in March, former Johnny’s Jr. member allege abuse in April press conference

The below article contains references to sexual abuse and child abuse.

Julie Keiko Fujishima, the current president of talent agency Johnny & Associates, released a video on Sunday in which she “express[ed] a deep apology to those who say they are victims” of sexual abuse by the agency’s late founder Johnny Kitagawa.

Fujishima, the niece of Kitagawa, also released a document stating it is not easy to confirm the individual allegations as Kitagawa has passed away, but she added the agency is taking it “very seriously” that people came forward saying they were abused.

Fujishima added the agency will overhaul its management system and will set up a consultation contact point. She also said she herself was responsible for not actively trying to look into the matter, and said what she should do now is “squarely face this issue” and carry out management reforms.

Recent Allegations

On March 7, the BBC released an hour-long documentary titled Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop, which detailed “a long history of allegations of sexual abuse, made by boys in [Kitagawa’s] agency” and why “the Japanese media remained largely silent.”

On April 12, Kauan Okamoto, a Japanese-Brazilian singer and songwriter, held a press conference and claimed Kitagawa abused him about 15 to 20 times between 2012-2016 when he was still a member of the agency, and said he knew at least three other people who had also been abused. Okamoto stated in the conference, “I hope everyone will come forward because it is an outrageous number of victims.” Okamoto was a part of the backup boys’ group Johnny’s Jr.

After Okamoto’s press conference, a group of fans and idols held a press conference on May 11 stating they had sent a petition to Johnny & Associates calling on the company to apologize and launch an investigation. The group had collected 16,125 names since posting the petition on on April 19.

Kitagawa’s Death and Past Allegations

Kitagawa passed away at 87 in July 2019 due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage (a form of stroke). Fujishima then became the current president in September 2019.

Kitagawa founded Johnny & Associates in 1962 after establishing the male idol group Johnnys. Johnny & Associates went on to establish and manage many male idol groups such as SMAP, Arashi, Tokio, KinKi Kids, V6, KAT-TUN, and Hey! Say! JUMP. The members of idol groups under the management of Johnny & Associates are collectively known as “Johnny’s.”

Kitagawa previously faced allegations of sexual misconduct during his career. The Shukan Bunshun magazine published 14-week expose in 1999 detailing accusations of child abuse and sexual exploitation. However, the accusations never resulted in formal criminal charges. Kitagawa and Johnny & Associates sued the magazine, and the magazine lost the first trial in March 2002. However, the magazine effectively won its Tokyo High Court appeal in July 2003. The High Court’s decision stated the alleged victims’ testimonies were “generally consistent” and “specific, frank, and detailed.” The decision also stated Kitagawa had “no concrete counterargument or rebuttal evidence.”

Sources: Johnny & Associates, NHK, The Mainichi (link 2), (link 3, Takashi Miyazaki), (link 4, Takao Yamada)


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