Ex-Johnny’s Member Calls for Victim Protection at U.N. Panel

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

Berlin (Jiji Press)—A former member of the Japanese talent agency previously known as Johnny & Associates Inc., embroiled in a sexual assault scandal, called for measures to protect victims from slander and harassment at a U.N. panel meeting Wednesday.

“Victims that report their abuses are subject to constant slander and harassment,” the ex-member, Akimasa Nihongi, said in a video message shown at the meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Measures must be taken to end the slander and harassment of victims.”

Nihongi spoke about his experience as a victim of sexual assault by Johnny Kitagawa, the late founder of the talent agency, which has been renamed Smile-Up. Inc.

After the meeting, Nihongi attended an event hosted mainly by a local press club and acknowledged the role of the foreign media and the United Nations in highlighting the sexual assault problem.

He thanked the international community for stepping in, saying that he had been in despair thinking that nobody would respond to his messages on the subject.

Nihongi called on Japanese corporations and media organizations that had long overlooked the issue to rectify their stance, saying that society as a whole must act to prevent a recurrence.

Sexual assault victims suffer from psychological trauma as well as slander after voicing out about their experiences, he said, stressing that their voices must no longer be ignored or silenced.

In the U.N. meeting, Robert McCorquodale, chair of the HRC’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights, referred to “systemic human rights challenges in Japan.”

In addition to the Johnny’s sexual assault scandal, McCorquodale expressed concerns about the human rights status of workers at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s meltdown-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and of foreign workers, as well as about discrimination of sexual minorities.