The president of Johnny & Associates has resigned following an internal investigation that concluded the agency’s founder and her late uncle, Johnny Kitagawa, had sexually abused hundreds of young boys as far back as the 1950s.
Fujishima’s resignation: Julie Keiko Fujishima, 57, expressed her regret and responsibility for her uncle’s actions and pledged to personally contribute to a victim compensation program. She also committed to staying on the company’s board to oversee said program.
“This is what my uncle committed, and as a niece, I want to take responsibility,” Fujishima said, according to the Associated Press.
“I think she acknowledged and sincerely apologized for what happened. It’s not like the emotional scars are gone but I think out of 100 points things have gotten a little easier by about 10,” Yukihiro Ohshima, a member of the Johnny’s Sexual Assault Victims’ Association, said, according to Reuters.
About Kitagawa’s abuse: Kitagawa’s abuse of children had long been rumored, but his influence had silenced most allegations until his death in 2019. He was one of the most prominent figures in the Japanese entertainment industry, having launched the careers of many lucrative boy bands. The company launched an investigation after a BBC documentary featuring several accusers aired in March.
One of Kitagawa’s victims was former J-pop idol Kauan Okamoto, who alleged that Kitagawa had sexually abused him at least 15 times over a course of four years starting in 2012, when he and Kitagawa’s other “favorites” were invited to spend the night at his penthouse apartment in Tokyo.
Johnny & Associates’ new leader: Noriyuki Higashiyama, a 56-year-old performer, was named as the new leader of the company. He retired from his career as an actor and singer to take on the role, which includes overseeing compensation for abuse survivors.
Higashiyama immediately faced questions about his own alleged mistreatment of young performers in the past, to which he responded that he does not recall clearly but acknowledged that he will be stricter with younger talents now.
“A horrendous crime has been committed,” Higashiyama said. “It will take time to win back trust, and I am putting my life on the line for this effort. Whether I am qualified to take on this job, you be the judge.”