TOKYO (CelebrityAccess) — The president and CEO of one of Japan’s leading talent agencies has apologized over allegations that the company’s founder, the late Japanese music industry legend Johnny Kitagawa, sexually abused multiple boys.
In a video and statement posted to the company’s website on Sunday, the company’s current president, Julie Fujishima said “We sincerely apologize for the great disappointment and emotional distress caused by the sexual assaults by the late Johnny Kitagawa, the founder of our company.”
In the statement Fujishima responded to multiple questions, including why it took so long for the agency to respond and the nature of their response, but she stopped short of confirming Kitagawa’s guilt.
The accusations against Kitagawa were most recently highlighted in April, when Brazilian-Japanese pop icon Kauan Okamoto alleged that Kitagawa would sexually abuse boys at his Tokyo apartment, using his position in the Japanese music industry to compel silence.
Okamoto alleged that his own abuse by Kitagawa occurred over a four-year period, starting in 2012. Okamoto, who was 15 at the time and a member of Johnny’s Jr, a group of aspiring artists who were in training for potential roles in Japanese idol groups.
However, such allegations against Kitagawa were nothing new. In 1988, he was accused of sexual harassment by Koji Kita, a former member of the Four Leaves, who claimed that Kitagawa made sexual advances on boys who were under contract with the agency.
Similar claims were made 8 years later by former idol Junya Hiramoto, who claimed that he witnessed Kitagawa force another boy to have sex in the agency’s dorms and in 1999 when Shukan Bunshun, a weekly news magazine, published a 10-part expose that included detailed allegations from 12 teenage boys who had been recruited by the agency.
Kitagawa denied any wrongdoing and an attorney representing him claimed that the allegations lacked merit and stemmed from disgruntled former employees.
Kitagawa later sued Shukan Bunshun for libel and was awarded an ¥8.8-million-yen judgment, but that decision was later overturned on appeal. Japanese police also declined to bring criminal charges against Kitagawa, claiming that none of the alleged victims made a formal complaint.
Following Kitagawa’s death in 2019, Shūkan Bunshun published fresh allegations against him and more recently, his alleged misconduct was the subject of the BBC documentary, Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop, which includes numerous interviews with alleged victims.