The boss of a J-pop talent agency has been ordered to resign over the abuse allegedly perpetrated by her late uncle, Johnny Kitagawa, while he was at the head of the business.
Investigators hired by the agency also recommended compensating Kitagawa’s victims, whose accounts featured in a BBC documentary back in March.
Johnny and Associates apologised after the documentary led to more victims coming forward, but those making allegations against Kitagawa argued more had to be done to make amends.
Kitagawa was arguably the most influential figure in Japan’s entertainment industry and his agency has held a near-monopoly on Japanese boy bands for decades.
He had faced allegations of sexual misconduct while he was alive and some were proven in a civil court, but he never faced charges. He had continued recruiting and training teenage boys until his death in 2019, aged 87.
According to the report released by independent investigators on Tuesday, the fact Kitagawa’s niece, Julie Keiko Fujishima, took over the agency “is one of the biggest causes of governance failure” that caused the abuse to persist for decades. Subsequently, they argued her replacement was “necessary”, particularly since it would also allow Johnny and Associates to restructure its leadership.
The investigators interviewed 41 people, including 23 victims and Fujishima herself, and found that Kitagawa abused a “large number” of young men “extensively” from the 1950s, through the 1970s when Johnny and Associates was set up, until the 2010s.
Similarly, results of a UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights released in early August found that Kitagawa had molested hundreds of boys and that the working environment in Japanese entertainment had enabled the activities of sexual predators.
There was no immediate response from the agency or Fujishima to the findings of the investigation or its recommendation that she leave her post.
The investigators said Fujishima must have known about the abuse but did nothing about it, despite her claim that she hadn’t been aware of it. “Overall, we found the statement [by Ms Fujishima] that she ‘didn’t know’ at the time to be a lie,” they said.