In an honestly shocking policy change, a formal apology was issued by the President of Johnny & Associates (and the founder’s niece as well) Julie Fujishima for the sexual abuse accusations founder Johnny Kitagawa has been facing. While there’s a long history of them, the recent documentary by the BBC and victim Kauan Okamoto coming forward were the catalysts to this moment, as they led to fans themselves demanding a response.
In a video and statement on the official company site, Fujishima addressed the circumstances regarding the release of an apology, and sorta gave a blanket apology without actually acknowledging that Johnny did the things he’s accused of.
In response to the delay in holding a news conference, Fujishima said the company had to first conduct an internal investigation while cooperating with lawyers and counselors, as well speak with those who came forward with claims of abuse.
“We deeply apologize to those that have claimed to be victims,” Fujishima said. “We take it very seriously that there are people who are said to have been affected right before our eyes.”
But Fujishima refrained from commenting on the veracity of the allegations.
“Since we can’t confront Johnny Kitagawa, the person in question, it is not easy for us to say that the individual cases were true or not,” she said, adding that the company is taking the allegations very seriously.
Regarding her being on the company board when Shukan Bunshun published allegations against him decades ago and won a court case against them, Fujishima somehow maintains that she had no direct knowledge of what he was up do, explaining that Johnny and his sister Mary Kitagawa made decisions unilaterally.
She added that she had no direct knowledge of Kitagawa’s actions.
“Various decisions were made just by the two,” said Fujishima, who was a board member at the time.
It was also mentioned that she spoke with Kauan directly and apologized to him.
Fujishima said she spoke with Okamoto at length and realized that he came forward with his allegations because he didn’t want to see a similar incident happen again. Okamoto said in his YouTube video that he spoke with Fujishima for about two hours, during which she offered an apology.
As far as responsibility goes, basically nothing is happening aside from the apology.
Asked how she would take responsibility for the incidents, Fujishima said that although she thought of resigning, she decided to stay in her position to work on measures to prevent a recurrence, including changing the mindset at the company.
“Accepting various tough opinions and having discussions with the members who belong to the company on what they want to do now and in the future — that is my way of taking responsibility,” Fujishima said.
Fujishima mentions that there will be preventive measures put in place to make sure things like this don’t happen again, and offers a vague sense of wanting to help those that come forward, but nothing else seems to be coming from them. I do wonder if there were private settlements involved in their attempt to move on from this, or if any kind of civil lawsuits will follow now.
While I’m guessing that’s part of the reason they aren’t actually admitting Johnny did anything, and it’s still infuriating that the apology is in like a ‘sorry if you’re offended’ tone, I’m glad that the bravery of Kauan and the rest of the victims was rewarded in some form and they at least got them to formally acknowledge this. That makes it harder for the Japanese press to pretend it just never happened, and should help ensure Johnny’s monstrous actions is an official part of his legacy, as it should be.