Alright, so there have been things going on since the last update on the Johnny Kitagawa sexual abuse scandal, and they range from further victims coming forward to Johnny & Associates talents addressing it to politicians discussing law changes over it.
First and foremost, I’ll try to summarize the four new accusers that have come forward.
Former Johnny’s Jr. member Ishimaru Shimon talked about how he was forced to have sex by Johnny when he was 14-15. He expressed how he was confused at his feelings at the time due to Johnny being a man, that Johnny gave him 30000 yen afterward, and that he felt he had to do it in order to get big jobs. As a result of this, he developed depression in 2004 and has been diagnosed with PTSD. He is currently living on disability payments.
Former Otokogumi member Tsuchida Kazunori came forward, saying that when he was at Johnny’s apartment (“training camp”), he was rubbed on his arms and stomach and such while five or so others played SNES in the same room (when he was 15-16). Later, when he was 18, he says Johnny hugged him from behind and Kazunori explains that he spun around to push him off and kneed Johnny in the stomach. After that Kazunori says he changed his clothes and ran away from the apartment.
Johnny & Associates soloist Toyokawa Jo recounted being hit on the butt by Kitagawa back when he was about 17, saying he didn’t remember all the details, but he did remember it hurt and he refused when Johnny tried a second time. He also talked about how the behavior was normalized, as although he personally wasn’t able to stand it, a promoter told him that you have to ‘sit on Johnny’s lap and lick his ears’ if you want to be a star.
78-year-old stage actor Hattori Yoshitsugu came forward and said he was sexually assaulted by Kitagawa around 70 years ago, which I believe would represent his earliest victim. Hattori says the relationship continued for about 2.5 years and that Johnny would come visit him around 30 times a year. Hattori recalled one incident where Johnny was the only adult on a trip to his father’s villa with three of Johnny’s baseball team, his friend, and himself, and that during the night he would “visit” all of them in one night. Yoshitsugu is the son of famous composer Hattori Ryoichi, who is one of 28 people to win the People’s Honour Award.
Additionally, while not a victim of Kitagawa directly, producer Matsuo Kiyoshi revealed on Twitter recently that his contract with Smile Company has been terminated after 15 years because he criticized Johnny & Associates in the media. He further alleges that Yamashita Tatsuro agreed with the move.
Kiyoshi says that the reason for the sudden ending of his relationship with Smile Company was due to him speaking about the Johnny Kitagawa abuse scandal and company president Julie Fujishima in the media. He then said that the person who invited him to join Smile Company, Yamashita Tatsuro, agreed with the ending of Kiyoshi’s contract. Smile Company was established to manage Tatsuro early in her career, and is also home to his wife, Takeuchi Mariya.
Kosugi Shusui, President and CEO of Smile Company, responded to Kiyoshi by saying that his contract was terminated early because of his actions inside and outside of the company. He made the decision to cancel the contract based on his own judgement as head of the company, and with the consultation of Kiyoshi. He added that both sides have signed and sealed contract cancellation agreements that were drawn up by each side’s lawyers.
The father of Kosugi Shusui is Kosugi Ryuzo, who was the former President of Johnny & Associates, which showcases the deep relationship that both and Tatsuro and his wife Takeuchi Mariya have with the company as writers and just in general.
In addition to allegations, others with ties to Johnny & Associates have spoken out, either to offer words of apology or to urge the company to do better.
Kondo Masahiko urged his company to transparent about the abuse.
“I hope (the agency) will not tell any lies and talk about it openly and squarely,” Kondo, who was among the most popular male idols in Japan in the 1980s, was quoted as saying by an Oita Prefectural Government official.
The official said the 58-year-old singer made the remarks to reporters when he visited the Oita governor to promote a car racing event in the southwestern prefecture.
Somewhat ironic coming from a gigantic scumbag himself.
Actor Higashiyama Noriyuki apologized for the abuse scandal, suggesting changing the name would be appropriate.
Appearing on TV Asahi’s “Sunday LIVE!!” program, which he anchors, Higashiyama, 56, said he was “truly sorry for all the people who have had to go through their emotional distress.”
“We must face the courageous confessions by the former members with sincerity,” Higashiyama said. “Their accounts are truly heartbreaking and (the alleged abuse) is totally regrettable. The emotional trauma inflicted on minors and the impact on their lives is immeasurable.”
Higashiyama said he had younger members of the agency wait to comment on the issue as he thought he should be the first one to talk about it as the oldest active member of the agency.
“We must work together with those outside the company to make everything new, including whether the name Johnny’s should continue to exist (as the company name), and address this issue with transparency,” he said.
He said the discussions should include what to do with the agency’s current talent and how to handle people who have come forward.
That sounds nice, but one of the victims (Tsuchida) has spoken about Higashiyama, saying that he was aware of the sexual abuses and even joked about it publicly.
Kazunori Tsuchida, former member of "Otokogumi," said that Higashiyama has known about the situation and even watched instances of assault take place.— Ice (@Ice_xob) July 4, 2023
In another article, it was said that Higashiyama once jokingly and drunkenly shouted, "Go do it with Johnny!” pic.twitter.com/j4jZnMbi86
Perhaps the biggest one was Arashi‘s Sakurai Sho spoke about it on NTV‘s News Zero.
Among the precious friends who once shared the same time as Johnny’s Jr., there are many who are already starting new lives in places completely different from this world.
Above all, we must avoid, and we want to avoid, including those people, from being the target of this issue. As I think about this, I fear that my own remarks will lead to further speculation, spread speculation, and even hurt people who have nothing to do with it.
However, that’s why I want Johnny & Associates to investigate what happened after protecting the privacy of people who don’t want to talk, without forcing them to open their mouths. I believe that we must take seriously the thoughts of those who have filed complaints and those who have signed the petition today, and we must establish a system to prevent such scandals from ever happening again.
Finally, I believe that sexual assault of any kind must never be tolerated and must never occur.
Ironically, there are reports that these statements have led to victims of Kitagawa being harassed online.
As far as what’s actually being done about it, well there are things underway.
Former Johnny’s Jr. members Kauan Okamoto, Hashida Yasushi, Nihongi Akimasa submitted signatures on a petition to six political parties back on June 5 to demand changes to the anti-child abuse law.
Hashida told reporters, “While this all started with Mr. Johnny’s sexual abuse allegations, if the law is revised I believe we can pave the way to save children in different situations. I think they heard our voices, and I hope the legal revision will be passed during this Diet session.”
The issue made its way all the way up to the Prime Minister being pressed on addressing it.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Monday to hold a ministerial meeting to address the issue of child sexual abuse following allegations made against the late founder of Japan’s top male talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc.
Relevant ministries and agencies are expected to discuss how to support teenagers who have been sexually abused, with some former members of the talent agency claiming they were molested by company founder Johnny Kitagawa, one of the most revered figures in the Japanese entertainment industry.
Child sexual abuse is “extremely malicious” and harms the mental and physical well-being of the victims, Kishida said during a parliamentary session.
Kishida said Masanobu Ogura, minister in charge of policies related to children, will take the lead in the discussions, with the focus on whether the government can take steps to prevent individuals in positions of influence over young people from coercing them into sexual acts.
Ogura, however, has said that careful consideration must be given if the law is to be amended as the current legislation only encompasses abusive acts by parents or guardians.
That said, former Johnny’s Jr. and victim Hiromoto Junya said he fears it’ll be forgotten quickly, though he does have hope for some of the new laws.
“I’m very thankful for all the attention that the issue has drawn recently, which is much more than the attention it had received for the last 35 years,” he said during an interview with The Japan Times. “But I’m afraid that in a few months, even before the summer, no one will be talking about it anymore. That’s the fear I have right now.”
He also said he found the company’s apology by Julie Fujishima to be them still lying.
Hiramoto said he found the apology insufficient, as she didn’t acknowledge the truth of the allegations.
“How can someone who’s been so involved in the agency of her uncle since she was a teen not know?
He also spoke about the bill for raising the age of consent.
This week, a bill amending the Penal Code to raise the age of sexual consent from 13 to 16 and extend the statute of limitations on sex crimes was passed by the Lower House and sent to the Upper House. The bill also specifies under what conditions sex is considered nonconsensual, such as victims being deprived of opportunities to express their objection.
Hiramoto welcomes the impending legal revisions, and said he hopes people’s attention will last long enough to save countless other aspiring idols who are at the mercy of predatory adults.
Many counseling centers and hotlines have been set up for potential victims of sexual abuse, but they are not necessarily easy for victims to find, he said.
“There are many victims who still haven’t found help. They need to have easy access to shields and weapons to protect themselves.”
Fortunately, these laws were eventually enacted.
As far as meaningful change and willingness to confront the issue in the industry and media goes, they still aren’t even willing to really tarnish Johnny’s legacy much.
A BBC insider told The Daily Beast that no company in Japan was prepared to make it available on their streaming platform. “It is a huge shame that we had to stop offering the film in Japan. As you can imagine, there was no media platform willing to offer the film,” the source said.
As a result, BBC sources told The Daily Beast that they are preparing a Japanese-subtitled version of the show to host on the BBC News Japan YouTube account where it can be seen by anyone.
The show was originally broadcast in Japanese on the little-watched BBC News Japan on March 18 and 19. It was then briefly available on streaming services including Hulu and Prime but only for subscribers who also had BBC Japan accounts. After 22 days it was withdrawn and—despite huge clamor—it has not been available since, just as the story of Kitagawa’s abuse has finally begun to crack through into Japan’s mainstream media.
Why? Johnny’s power still lingers over everything.
However, there are some real-life scandals that they seem reluctant to touch. A Netflix staffer told The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, “When you consider how much of the acting and talent pool here includes those who were under Johnny, airing that documentary is likely to have adverse repercussions on developing original programming in the future.”
As always, I’m glad the victims have not only come forward but have worked to make a difference for those in the future. Changing the entire industry, especially when the company they’re up against has its footprints all over said industry, is always going to be the uphill task, and I guess the hope there is that things at least improve from here on out. That said, it’s a bit more difficult to do that when information about the past atrocities aren’t even allowed to be aired.