The current president of Johnny & Associates, possibly Japan’s most fearsome talent agency, has formally apologized for sexual abuses allegedly committed by her uncle and agency founder, Johnny Kitagawa, against young male talents.
Kitagawa died in 2019, age 87. But an expose aired by the BBC in March this year and personal testimony by former Johnny’s talent Okamoto Kauan at a Tokyo press conference last month, brought matters into the public eye. Okamoto alleged that Kitagawa had repeatedly abused him and others.
Japanese media, which had maintained a general, if not universal, silence about Kitagawa’s alleged abuses for decades, has recently been stirred up by the accusations.
Johnny’s president, ‘Julie’ Fujishima Keiko, said published video statement on Sunday and posted it to the agency website. “We sincerely apologize for the disappointment and anxiety this has caused,” she said.
She added the agency has been conducting its own investigation, consulting with lawyers and other experts and studying countermeasures, including an anonymous hotline for reporting abuses and briefing sessions with minors and their guardians. “If (the accusations) are true, we have to question even the existence of our agency,” Fujishima said.
She explained that when accusations against Kitagawa were detailed in 1999 in a series of articles in the “Shukan Bunshun” tabloid she was a company director, but Kitagawa was in charge of talent management and his sister Mary Kitagawa handled the agency’s business operations. “Knowledge of these (accusations) was limited to the two of them,” said Fujishima, adding that other company employees, as well as board members, were kept in the dark. “This was not a normal situation,” she said, “…I am simply ashamed of it and deeply regret it.”