15 May 2023, 12:40

Japan boyband agency apologises over sex abuse allegations

TOKYO, May 15, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Japan's top boyband agency has issued an 
apology over sexual assault allegations against its late founder Johnny 
Kitagawa, with fans demanding Monday that the firm "fully investigate" the 

Last month, Japanese-Brazilian singer Kauan Okamoto said he was repeatedly 
molested by Kitagawa, who established the entertainment empire Johnny and 

Okamoto alleged that Kitagawa, who died of a stroke aged 87 in 2019, 
assaulted him during his four-year stint with the agency until 2016, starting 
when he was 15 years old.

He is one of the few to publicly address the star-maker's long-alleged 
history of sexual abuse against young boys, a controversy that resurfaced 
after a recent BBC documentary.

Kitagawa was never criminally charged over the accusations.

Julie Fujishima, Kitagawa's niece and the current president of Johnny and 
Associates, addressed the matter in a video and written statement published 
Sunday evening.

In the video, she apologised "sincerely" for trouble caused in connection to 
the allegations, and to the accusers.

"Obviously, we do not believe there was no problem. As a business and as an 
individual, I absolutely do not tolerate these acts," her written statement 
referring to the documentary and Okamoto's testimony.

"On the other hand, it is not easy for us to simply declare by ourselves 
whether individual allegations can be recognised as facts or not, when we 
cannot confirm with the individual directly concerned, Johnny Kitagawa," she 

"This is not the kind of occasion where you can be forgiven by saying 'I did 
not know'. But the truth is that I did not," added Fujishima, a long-term 
executive at the agency.

A fan group called Penlight said Monday that the company's decision to issue 
online statements, rather than holding a press conference, had left many 
questions unanswered.

"We ask for the company to fully investigate and recognise the facts of the 
matter, to take responsibility as a corporation and apologise to the victims 
of sexual violence," it said.

Kitagawa launched his talent agency in the 1960s and engineered J-pop mega-
groups including SMAP, TOKIO and Arashi.

His young recruits were known collectively as "Johnny's Jrs", and flocked to 
Kitagawa in the hopes of making it big in the lucrative industry.


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