About a week ago, during the latest update on the Johnny Kitagawa sexual abuse scandal, it was mentioned that producer Matsuo Kiyoshi was let go from Smile Company after he made critical comments about Johnny and current President Julie Fujishima. It was notable because he said that the company had the blessing of famous musician and city pop pioneer Yamashita Tatsuro.
Following that, Tatsuro said he would respond to the claim, which I perhaps naively assumed he might try to distance himself from Johnny, but instead he took a different tack on Tokyo FM radio show Yamashita Tatsuro’s Sunday Songbook.
Yamashita began by clarifying that Matsuo had an advisory role at the company, and that he had no input in the decision.
Tatsuro then spoke of Kiyoshi’s true status at Smile Company, saying that he wasn’t an actual employee of the company, but that it was an advisory relationship, meaning that he couldn’t really be fired. Tatsuro also mentioned the agreement between each side’s lawyers. He added that the decision to end the contract was made by the head of Smile Company, and that he had no input in the decision. Tatsuro continued, saying that he hasn’t spoke to Kiyoshi since the decision was made. In fact, he hasn’t seen Kiyoshi in a long time, with their relationship mainly consisting of email exchanges.
That said, he did admit that Matsuo’s “one-sided criticism” (lol) was one of the reasons he’s no longer with the company.
“I admit that Matsuo’s one-sided criticism based on speculation about Johnny Kitagawa’s sexual assault problem was one of the reasons for the termination of the contract, but it is by no means the only reasons,” said Tatsuro. He mentioned that there are other reasons, but he would not disclose them at this time.
He continued by addressing his thoughts on the allegations against Johnny, with quite frankly an utterly deluded (or just a straight up lie) claim that he basically didn’t know of any scandal with Johnny until recently, and then says he had no knowledge of any misdeeds going on.
Tatsuro said that the biggest piece of gossip going around is that he has a bias against Johnny & Associates and that he was involved in the abuse; this is all baseless. “In today’s world, those who stay silent will win, false information is spreading more and more, so I feel the need to speak honestly and frankly about what I think.”
Tatsuro said that until the scandal broke this year, there were only vague rumors about Johnny. He claimed that he didn’t even know about the trial in 1999. He said that his business partner was working for Johnny & Associates then, but he as a manager never told inside information to Tatsuro, a talent. He said that if sexual assault really did occur, that it is unforgivable, and that a third party investigation is essential.
He said since he knows nothing of the abuse, he can’t speak of it. He is only a person who provides music to Johnny & Associates. The company has a wide range of businesses, including dance, theater, film, and television. He had absolutely no way of knowing about sexual assault at the company.
Yamashita then went into the history of his relationship with Johnny and his company dating back to being a fan in the 60s to working with them in the 80s. Then he basically makes a ‘separate the art from the artist’ argument, saying that his respect for Kitagawa has not changed.
Since the performing arts are creates by humans, communication between humans is essential. No matter what field, this won’t change.
Tatsuro believes that if you can’t build a good relationship between people, good work won’t come out of it. “Even now, my respect for Johnny, who produced many talents, has not changed,” he said. “The most important thing in my life is relationship and kindness. The many talents Johnny nurtured have warmed the hearts of people in post-war Japan, made them happy, and gave them dreams. I have been blessed to work with many talents, being able to create works that can be sung for a long time, I am deeply grateful for this opportunity.”
“As an individual and as a musician, I will never forget my gratitude to Johnny,” Tatsuro said. “I recognize Johnny’s talent as a producer, but I think that is a completely separate thing from accepting sexual abuse.” He continued, saying, “There is no sin in the work, nor the talents. Again, I am not advocating for sexual assault. I just want to treat the talents with respect, as I’ve seen their efforts in performing arts up close.”
He mentions that his thoughts on Johnny’s groups haven’t changed and concludes by reiterating his stance.
“In my 48 years as a musician, in order to repay the kindness I have received from many people, I will continue to support talents from the standpoint of a musician. I believe it is my duty to bring out their talents and create good songs with them. If my attitude is interpreted as conjecture or being wrapped up, then that’s fine. I’m sure those people don’t need my music. This is my report on this matter. I’m deeply sorry. Thank you for your continued support.”
Well … it’s a hell of a hill to die on.
Essentially he’s saying that even if Johnny was indeed a serial pedophile and sexual abuser over decades, at least he was nice to him, made a lot of money with his groups, and was talented at what he did, which means nothing changes in his mind. Comically, he has to include that he doesn’t condone any crimes, because surely he knows how absurd it sounds, but it doesn’t impact his life so whatever, I guess.
You know, it’s not that I necessarily expected him to condemn Johnny or his company given the deep ties there, but it was pretty surprising that he would come out and basically give a full-throated endorsement instead of vaguely distancing himself like a sane stooge would. Pretty mind-blowing, honestly, and probably an indictment of just the kind of pull and reach that Johnny had in the industry, and why even with all of this coming out it’s still such an uphill battle to even get it mainstream viewing in Japan.