Late founder of powerful boy band talent agency sexually abused hundreds of teenagers over decades: investigation

A team investigating allegations of sexual assault by the late founder of a powerful boy band talent agency found the charges credible and called Tuesday for compensation for victims and the resignation of the current chief executive.

The three-month investigation, which included speaking to 23 victims, concluded that Johnny Kitagawa sexually assaulted and abused children as early as the 1950s and attacked at least several hundred people.

The investigative panel said Johnny & Associates should apologize, strengthen compliance measures and educate its ranks about human rights.

Julie Keiko Fujishima, chief executive, must resign for failing to take action over the years, according to the task force.

Kitagawa died in 2019 and has never been charged.

“The company’s cover-up caused sexual abuse to continue unchecked for so long,” investigative team leader Makoto Hayashi told reporters in Tokyo. “There were a lot of opportunities to perform.”

The three-month investigation concluded that Johnny Kitagawa (not seen above) sexually assaulted children as early as the 1950s and attacked at least several hundred people.

Critics say what happened at Johnny’s, as the Tokyo-based company is known, highlights Japan’s lack of awareness about rape, sexual harassment and human rights.

The public has often been unsympathetic toward people who say they have been attacked by sexual predators.

In Johnny’s case, about a dozen men have come forward in recent months to report sexual abuse by Kitagawa, the agency’s founder, while performing as teenagers. More people are expected to come forward, according to the report.

Lawyer and former prosecutor Makoto Hayashi, center, speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023.“The company’s cover-up caused sexual abuse to continue unchecked for so long,” the leader of the investigation team, Makoto Hayashi (center), told reporters in Tokyo. “There were a lot of opportunities to perform.”

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So far, Fujishima has only apologized in a short online video for “disappointment and concern” over the case.

It is not clear if he will resign.

While rumors of abuse at Johnny’s circulated over the years and several tell-all books were published, the mainstream Japanese media remained silent.

The investigative panel said Johnny & Associates should apologize, strengthen compliance measures and educate its ranks about human rights. The investigative panel said Johnny & Associates should apologize, strengthen compliance measures and educate its ranks about human rights. PA

Serious questions resurfaced this year after BBC News produced a special segment focusing on several people who claimed to be Kitagawa’s victims.

Another turning point came earlier this month when the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights urged the Japanese government to take action.

The group also accused the Japanese mainstream media of what it called “a cover-up.”

Pichamon Yeophantong (left) and Damilola Olawuyi (right), members of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, spoke to journalists at the National Press Club of Japan about Kitagawa's alleged sexual abuse of teenagers in Tokyo , on Friday August.  Accessed January 4, 2023.Pichamon Yeophantong (left) and Damilola Olawuyi (right), members of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, spoke at the Japan National Press Club about the care for Kitagawa in Tokyo, Friday, August 4, 2023 .AP

According to the allegations, Kitagawa asked novice singers and dancers, many of them children, to stay at his luxurious home.

When he told one of them to go to bed early, everyone knew it was “your turn,” those who had spoken told the panel.

The boys were raped by Kitagawa when they were 14 or 15 years old and then given 10,000 yen (about $100) bills, according to the report.

Kitagawa died on July 9, 2019 at the age of 87.Kitagawa died on July 9, 2019 at the age of 87.Getty Images

He added that the victims feared they would be penalized if they refused.

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He recommends that more people come forward and promises that their privacy will be protected and that material evidence of a sexual assault will not be required.

Those who have spoken out say they have been left painfully traumatized, unable to tell anyone, not even their family, and still suffering from flashbacks and depression, according to the report.

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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