Johnny & Associates: Don’t Brush Off Sexual Abuse as Just Another Entertainment World Scandal

Despicable sexual assaults of male talents continued for nearly half a century. The talent agency that neglected the problem must overhaul its organization and make every possible effort to aid the victims.

A third-party panel of experts set up by Johnny & Associates Inc. has released its investigation report on the sexual assaults by Johnny Kitagawa, the founder of the talent agency, who died in 2019. The report stated that the sexual abuse of male talents continued for more than 40 years, and there was testimony from several people that the victims numbered in the hundreds.

Kitagawa wielded absolute power, holding the success or failure of young talents’ careers in his hands. If he took advantage of the dreams of talents who wanted to make a debut and become famous, he was extremely malicious.

Some of the victims have been deeply hurt mentally, such as those suffering from depression. Their heartache and agony are more than one can imagine.

Stating that Kitagawa was driven by a “paraphilia” to commit sexual assault, the report concluded that the agency covered up the problem, causing the damage to escalate. The report also proposed that company President Julie Keiko Fujishima should resign and that assistance measures should be provided to the victims.

The agency needs to renew its corporate culture and make a completely fresh start.

Allegations of sexual assaults committed by Kitagawa had been reported by weekly magazines and other media since the 1960s, but they never became a major social issue. This is probably because at the time, the issue was considered merely another scandal in the entertainment industry, and it was difficult to deal with the sexual abuse of young male victims.

As a reason for the long-term persistence of the sexual assaults, the report noted that TV stations and other media organizations refrained from reporting on the scandal for fear that the agency’s talents could not be secured to appear on their programs.

In the United States, accusations of sexual assaults against actresses by a prominent film producer became widely known. In the Japanese film industry, too, there have been multiple claims of sexual assaults by directors.

In the entertainment industry, it seems that awareness has not fully spread that sexual assault and sexual harassment must not be tolerated. In society, however, there is a growing awareness that legal compliance and a stance of strictly dealing with such behavior, including sexual remarks, should be taken for granted.

The entertainment industry cannot be an exception. Some companies and local governments will no longer work with entertainment agencies that turn a blind eye to harm done to their talents. It is hoped that each agency will take a fresh look at whether the human rights of their talents have been ignored.

The influence that entertainment agencies have on society is significant, especially among younger generations. The agencies need to be aware of this.

In response to this issue, the central government has decided to set up a consultation service to deal with harassment in the entertainment industry and the sexual abuse of male victims. If people can speak out and express their worries, it will lead to the prevention of new sexual abuse victims.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 31, 2023)