At this point there are so many sexual abuse allegations against Johnny Kitagawa, the founder of talent agency Johnny & Associates, that it’s reached the highest levels of Japan. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is the head of the Japanese government, has declared he’s holding a ministerial meeting on the topic of child sexual abuse.
Johnny & Associates is a major talent agency that’s been behind groups like SMAP, KinKi Kids, Hey! Say! JUMP and V8. Kitagawa died in 2019, and Julie Keiko Fujishima, the new head of the company, recently apologized to victims and promised to reform Johnny’s. This March the BBC put out a documentary titled Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop about Kitagawa. The documentary is about “a long history of allegations of sexual abuse, made by boys in [Kitagawa’s] agency” and questions why “the Japanese media remained largely silent.”
In 1999, the magazine Shukan Bunshun published a major exposé on the abuse allegations, and Kitagawa responded by suing. In their first trial, the court sided with Kitagawa. When the case reached the Tokyo High Court, that court said that the testimony from the alleged victims was “generally consistent” as well as “specific, frank, and detailed.” The court sided with Shukan Bunshun, and pointed out that Kitagawa had no rebuttal evidence. Still, Kitagawa was never charged with anything. But the reality of being sued may have stopped other news sources from wanting to report on the allegations.
“I hope everyone will come forward because it is an outrageous number of victims,” said singer and songwriter Kauan Okamoto, who is one of the many people saying they were abused.
Prime Minister Kishida’s meeting will have members of the government discussing how they can help young people who have been sexually abused, and also how they can prevent future examples of people in power abusing others. There are also internal investigations going on at Johnny & Associates.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.