A team of experts investigating allegations of sexual abuse by late boy band mogul Johnny Kitagawa has urged Julie Keiko Fujishima, the current president of Johnny’s & Associates, to step down due to the company’s lack of action over the decades.
The investigation: The third-party team, appointed by the talent agency, interviewed 41 people and concluded that Kitagawa had sexually abused boys as far back as the 1950s and continuing through the 2010s, reported The Japan Times.
Fujishima’s lack of action: Their report highlighted the agency’s failure to address the issue, noting a lack of proper governance and suggesting that a change in leadership is necessary to rebuild the agency’s reputation. The report also claimed that Fujishima was likely aware of the abuse but took no action.
“The company’s coverup led to the sexual abuse continuing unchecked for so long,” investigative team leader Makoto Hayashi said, according to The Associated Press. “There were many opportunities to take action.”
Fujishima is reportedly considering resigning in response to the report. While the report is calling for accountability, changes in corporate governance and compensation for victims, the victims group believe that it is “unacceptable that she should resign to avoid responsibility,” according to Junya Hiramoto, a representative of the victims.
Kauan Okamoto’s claim: The report also pointed to the Japanese media’s silence as a contributing factor that allowed the abuse to continue for years. The scandal garnered international attention after a BBC documentary aired in March, leading former members of Johnny & Associates to step forward.
One of them 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.
The boys were allegedly raped when they were 14- or 15-years-old and handed 10,000 yen (approximately $100) bills afterward. The victims reportedly feared being punished or losing their careers if they refused, according to the Associated Press.
UN investigation: Earlier this month, a subsequent United Nations investigation found alarming allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving “several hundred” of talents from the agency. The U.N. urged the Japanese government to deliver them justice.
About Kitagawa: Kitagawa, who was an American-born Japanese businessman and talent manager, was celebrated in Japan when he died at 87 in 2019. He was one of the most prominent figures in the Japanese entertainment industry, having launched the careers of many lucrative boy bands.
In 1962, he founded Johnny & Associates, the talent agency managing male idol singers and actors. Kitagawa was behind some of Japan’s biggest stars, including SMAP, KinKi Kids and Arashi.