Japan’s boyband agency apologises for late founder’s sexual assault allegations

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Japan’s leading boyband agency has issued a public apology in response to sexual assault allegations against its late founder, Johnny Kitagawa. Fans are now urging the company, Johnny and Associates, to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

In a recent statement, Kauan Okamoto, a Japanese-Brazilian singer, claimed that he was repeatedly molested by Kitagawa during his four-year tenure with the agency, which began when he was 15 years old. Kitagawa, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 87, was never criminally charged over these accusations.

Julie Fujishima, Kitagawa’s niece and current president of Johnny and Associates, addressed the allegations in a video and written statement released yesterday evening. Fujishima apologised “sincerely” for any 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 said, referring to the documentary and Okamoto’s testimony.

Fujishima also acknowledged the difficulty in determining the truth of individual allegations, as Kitagawa is no longer alive to confirm or deny them. She added that she was unaware of the alleged abuse during her time as a long-term executive at the agency.

A fan group called Penlight expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s decision to issue online statements instead of holding a press conference, leaving many questions unanswered. The group is calling for a full investigation into the matter and for the company to take responsibility and apologise to the victims of sexual violence.

Johnny Kitagawa founded his talent agency in the 1960s and was responsible for the success of J-pop mega-groups such as SMAP, TOKIO, and Arashi. Aspiring stars, known as “Johnny’s Jrs,” joined the agency in hopes of achieving success in the lucrative industry, reports Bangkok Post.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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