Member of Johnny’s Sexual Abuse Victims Group Found Dead; Man Found Hanged in Osaka Mountains

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The office of Smile-Up. Inc., formerly Johnny & Associates, in Tokyo

A man in his 40s who belonged to an association comprising former Johnny & Associates members who claim they were abused by the agency’s late founder Johnny Kitagawa was found dead in Osaka Prefecture, investigators said. He is believed to have committed suicide.

The man was said to have been slandered on social media, prompting Osaka prefectural police to investigate the circumstances of his death.

According to investigators, the man, an Osaka resident, was found hanged in the mountains in Minoh in the prefecture in mid-October and was later confirmed dead. What appeared to be his suicide note was found nearby.

The man accused Kitagawa, who died in 2019, of sexual assault in some media outlets. After that, he allegedly received a number of slanderous comments on social media, such as “Lies will be discovered instantly,” or “You want money, don’t you?”

The victims’ association said its members have received slanderous comments such as “you are a compulsive liar” or “you didn’t even make a debut” through social media. Some members have filed criminal complaints and damage reports with the police as a result.

The former Johnny & Associates office — now known as Smile-Up. Co. — has called on the public to stop the slander.