Head of Japan’s top pop agency resigns after admitting
Spread the love

The head of Japan’s top pop agency Johnny & Associates stepped down Thursday after admitting that her uncle, the company’s late founder, had sexually abused minors for years, following months of international scrutiny and an independent investigation.

According to public broadcaster NHK, Julie K Fujishima, the niece of Johnny Kitagawa, resigned, saying the company would compensate the victims of her uncle’s abuse.

According to NHK, it was the first time the agency addressed the media about the scandal. A BBC documentary earlier this year focused attention on the issue, and a former star trainee came forward in April alleging Kitagawa abused him and other young men.

The 87-year-old Kitagawa passed away in 2019.

Fujishima will be replaced by Noriyuki Higashiyama, who started his career as a singer with the agency nearly 40 years ago. During the news conference, Higashiyama promised to take measures to prevent similar abuse from occurring again and to compensate victims “sincerely”.

The agency commissioned an independent investigation last week, which released its findings on Thursday.

Kitagawa committed sexual assault repeatedly between the 1950s and the mid-2010s, according to a panel of expert witnesses after interviewing 41 people, including victims and other company employees.

It was mainly backup dancers known as “Johnny’s Juniors” who were victims, NHK reported. Several locations were involved in the abuse, including Kitagawa’s home and the company’s training camps.

As a family-run business, Johnny & Associates was able to continue the abuse for so long because the founders had so much power and little accountability. According to the report, Mary Kitagawa, Johnny’s older sister and the late former president of the agency, was aware of the abuse but did nothing about it.

A number of recommendations were made by the investigators, including setting up a victim compensation program and urging Fujishima to step down.

During his long career, Kitagawa headed Japan’s biggest talent agency and was known for setting up popular boy bands and launching the music and acting careers of many teen idols. He was a powerful figure in the media and entertainment industries for decades.