Panel Calls for Johnny & Associates President to Stand Down

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Makoto Hayashi, center, speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday alongside the other members of a third-party panel appointed to investigate sexual abuse allegations against Johnny Kitagawa, the late founder of Johnny & Associates Inc.

A third-party panel looking into sexual abuse allegations against Johnny Kitagawa, the late founder of the all-male talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc., has called the company’s president to stand down.

Following the release of the panel’s report Tuesday, Johnny & Associates Inc. said it would hold a press conference.

The agency appointed the panel when fresh reports of sexual assaults committed by Kitagawa reemerged earlier this year.

The panel comprised chair Makoto Hayashi, a former prosecutor general, psychiatrist Nozomu Asukai and clinical psychology researcher Azusa Saito.

“Johnny & Associates Inc. has basically been covering up sexual assaults committed by the head of the agency,” Hayashi said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The panel conducted interviews with twenty-three former members of the agency during its probe. According to the 67-page report, Kitagawa sexually assaulted boys, including children on the books of his agency, for more than 40 years.

The report noted that Kitagawa was in sole control of the careers of the children at the agency and that the company failed to take action even though employees had been aware of the sexual assaults, which enabled the mogul to continue abusing boys for many years.

According to the report, Kitagawa might have sexually abused hundreds of boys.

One of the alleged victims quoted in the report said, “I thought I would lose my chance if I didn’t submit to him.” Another said, “I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t tell anyone when I was young.”

The testimonies recorded in the report indicate some of Kitagawa’s alleged victims are suffering from serious long-term effects, including depression.

The report also criticized the agency’s corporate governance, noting that the agency did not address past allegations of sexual assault allegations, even after Kitagawa’s death in 2019.

It called for the resignation of the agency’s president Julie K. Fujishima, Kitagawa’s niece.

“If the agency is going to make a fresh start, I hope that it will admit that the sexual assaults occurred, take measures to prevent a recurrence and lead change in the entire entertainment industry,” Hayashi said at the press conference.

Junya Hiramoto, a former member of the agency who for over 30 years has alleged he was sexually abused by Kitagawa, expressed relief after reading the report.

“I think there is more understanding of our feelings,” said Hiramoto, 57. “[The panel] assumed responsibility for the task on our behalf. They took our comments seriously and included our testimonies in the report.”