Johnny & Associates, an idol talent agency in Japan, has been under the microscope over accusations that its founder, the late Johnny Kitagawa, sexually abused teen boys for decades. Kitagawa died in 2019, and while there were some written reports in the press about the accusations during his lifetime, the Japanese press mostly stayed mum about it, and Kitagawa was never charged.
After his passing, his niece Julie Keiko Fujishima became the head of the agency, and in a press conference earlier this year, she apologized to “those who have come forward with claims of abuse” and promised that management would get an overhaul. That overhaul turned out to be right — Fujishima, in light of what has been discovered during investigating the company, is resigning as president.
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights did an investigation and reported that, according to their findings, hundreds of people signed onto the agency were sexually abused. Other employees were sometimes abusers as well.
It was also appears that members of Kitagawa’s family were aware of the widespread sexual abuse, but chose to ignore it. (It’s not clear in the Japanese news if Fujishima was aware, but it’s clear her mother was a big part of the cover-up.) Some people within the company definitely knew about it, and they helped keep it secret. Fujishima, with the news of her resignation, acknowledged for the first time that there had definitely been abuse, whereas in the past she crouched it in wording like “Those who have come forward with claims of abuse.”
Her replacement will be Noriyuki Higashiyama, who is known for being an actor, TV personality and singer. He will be retiring from his other work so he can take on the job as president.
“It may take a long time to regain the trust lost due to the deep mental and physical wounds Mr. Kitagawa inflicted on his victims, but I am willing to dedicate the rest of my life to addressing this issue,” he said in a statement.
He and Fujishima also promised to look into getting the victims compensation.
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.