At their last press conference about a month ago, Johnny & Associates announced that while they would be making changes in response to the report on founder Johnny Kitagawa’s sexual abuse, they would not be changing the company’s name. However, recently in the follow-up press conference, they have backtracked on that after considerable backlash, deciding to rebrand their main operation and create a new company to manage talents.
Johnny & Associates on Monday revealed a plan to establish a new company to manage its performers in a bid to start fresh with a separate entity from the talent agency, which has been tainted by allegations of sexual abuse by its late founder Johnny Kitagawa.
The existing Johnny & Associates, which will change its name to Smile-Up, will focus on identifying the victims of alleged child sexual abuse by Kitagawa, who died in 2019, and providing them with compensation. A new yet-to-be-named company will take on the role of talent agency.
“We will be disbanding Johnny & Associates and face the victims in a sincere manner,” Johnny’s President Noriyuki Higashiyama said at a news conference Monday. “The new company will create a new future with its fans.”
The new company will solicit its name from fans. Higashiyama will become the president of the new company, and Yoshihiko Inohara will be the vice president.
So basically, the new structure will be Johnny & Associates becoming Smile-Up with Julie Fujishima continuing as CEO and Higashiyama Noriyuki continuing as President, and they’ll focus on compensating victims. Smile-Up will be dissolved after the reparation work is done. Then there will be a new yet-to-be named company chosen by the fanclub, with Higashiyama Noriyuki as President and Inohara Yoshihiko as Vice President (Julie will not be involved, technically at least), which will manage the artists. The artists will also be signing individual contracts with the new agency. As far as groups with “Johnny” in their name, they will also be renamed, according to Higashiyama.
From the start, this move really seemed like the bare minimum the company could do for a variety of reasons, mainly due to the victims themselves, if nothing else just to make sure they don’t basically inflict any further damage on them. However, even just in the case of self-preservation, rebranding so your company isn’t named after a serial rapist and pedophile just makes sense. And it seems after opinion polls with the public were slanted against them, as well as mounting media pressure, they finally decided to agree with changing the name at least.
According to Higashiyama, 478 individuals have come forward as of the end of September, and 325 have requested compensation.
The veteran TV personality, who will remain as president of the renamed firm, said a committee established to oversee the redress has so far received consultations from 478 sex abuse victims, with 325 of them seeking compensation.
So far, the coverage of the company has continued enough to help push through some changes, and I hope they at least keep it up until the victims are compensated. Hopefully they can do that by mostly focusing on holding J&A’s feet to the fire through their executives rather than punishing the idols, who might’ve been victims themselves. Of course, not revictimizing people also applies to those still harassing the victims, which even Inohara acknowledged is happening and had to discourage people from doing (again).