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Japan sex predator Johnny Kitagawa’s talent agency faces spiralling crisis amid growing anger, advertiser boycott | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

Fujishima had released a video statement in May in which she attempted to draw a line under the scandal, but failed to clearly state that Kitagawa had abused anyone and dismissed calls for a third-party investigation – which only led to more accusations.

A tearful Fujishima conceded at Thursday’s press conference that her uncle had used his music mogul status to sexually assault children. The admission was accompanied by the announcement that Noriyuki Higashiyama would be taking over as the new president of Johnny & Associates.

Japan talent agent Johnny Kitagawa sexually assaulted hundreds of teens: report

Himself a product of the company’s conveyor belt of performers, 56-year-old Higashiyama said his priority was to oversee efforts to compensate the victims.

Thursday’s press conference quickly took a turn, however, when journalists asked Higashiyama about allegations that he had also abused boys. A book delving into the widening scandal has claimed that he made the most of his position as a senior member of the agency to massage younger boys’ crotches and expose his genitals.

He was also asked whether the claim that he told at least one boy to “eat my sausage” was accurate.

“I don’t remember clearly,” he said. “Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t. I have trouble remembering.”

Noriyuki Higashiyama, the new president of Johnny & Associates Inc., fielded questions on Thursday related to allegations that he had also abused young boys. Photo: AP

Higashiyama also said it was difficult to remember whether he had bullied other members of the agency, saying that it was possible he had been “stricter” with them. He added that he may have done things in his 20s that he would not do now.

The day after the press conference, close business partners moved to distance themselves from the company.

Food and drink giant Kirin Holdings said it will halt the development of new adverts and promotional materials with any entertainers represented by the agency, national broadcaster NHK reported. Kirin added that it will not renew any existing contracts with the company.

Asahi Group Holdings, another leading food and drinks firm, also announced that it will no longer use Johnny & Associates performers and will not renew present contracts.

That brand is now toxic, yet they insist that they are not going to change the name

Makoto Watanabe, media professor

Asahi, which presently has 23 celebrities from the agency promoting its products, called on the agency to compensate the victims and introduce measures to prevent a recurrence of such incidents.

Japan Airlines had previously halted using Johnny & Associates stars while Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance is considering terminating its contracts with the agency. More companies are expected to follow suit.

“The very least they could do at this point would be to change the name,” said Makoto Watanabe, a professor of media and communications at Hokkaido Bunkyo University in Sapporo. “That brand is now toxic, yet they insist that they are not going to change the name. It is hard to believe.”

Watanabe said the efforts to ride out the initial criticisms had failed and management was attempting to solve that with more changes, but it will be hard to maintain business as usual at the agency.

Japanese newspapers carry news of the death of Johnny Kitagawa in July 2019, before the sexual abuse allegations against him became public knowledge. Photo: AFP

“So they change the president, but she is staying in the company and she holds all of its stock and effectively remains in control,” he said. “And then it turns out that the new leader also has complaints of sexual abuse against him.”

“Nobody who sees this will ever believe the company has changed or is committed to reforming itself, no matter what the management says,” Watanabe added.

Comments on social media called for the company to face stricter punishment for its failures to stop the sexual abuse of its stars.

“The head of an organisation has been sexually assaulting hundreds of minors over several decades and people in the organisation knew about it but didn’t do anything to stop it or worked hard to cover it up by putting pressure on those involved,” said one message on the Yahoo Japan news site.

Japan boy band agency admits founder’s sex abuse, as scandal forces shake-up

“I believe the group can be labelled an antisocial organisation and should therefore be treated the same as a yakuza (organised crime) group,” it added.

Another post said more companies should refuse to work with Johnny & Associates and that its stars, who are not at fault, should be transferred to other agencies.

“The fact that they decided to keep the name of the company – which is that of a criminal who has committed sexual assault against minors – shows that they do not understand the seriousness of the matter at all,” said another.

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