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EDITORIAL | Johnny & Associates Abuses Call for Apology, Compensation, Reform

The Japanese media shares the blame for failing to report how same-sex assaults on hundreds of minors had been happening inside Johnny & Associates.



Members of a team that investigated charges of sexual abuse at major talent agency Johnny & Associates meet the press in Tokyo on August 29. Lawyer and former prosecutor Makoto Hayashi (center) chaired the special team for the prevention of the recurrence of sexual abuse. (© Sankei by Koichi Saito)

A recent report concluded that Johnny Kitagawa, the late founder of Johnny & Associates, was guilty of repeated sexual abuse of minor employees over decades. The report is the work of a special team of outside experts who carried out an investigation into the charges at the entertainment industry powerhouse.

Created to prevent a recurrence of such sexual abuse at the company, the team also issued other conclusions. It accused Johnny Kitagawa's older sister Mary Yasuko Fujishima (Mary Kitagawa) of covering up her brother's misconduct. Fujishima, a longtime company executive, was aware of the misconduct they found and thereby increased the damage.

The report called for the resignation of Julie Keiko Fujishima, Mary Yasuko Fujishima's daughter and the company's current chief executive. It also demanded that Johnny & Associates admit that the sexual assaults had occurred and apologize. Moreover, it said Johnny's must establish a "system for victim relief measures" to provide appropriate compensation to the victims. 

Even if Julie Keiko Fujishima were to accept the blame, she would still retain 100% control of the company's stock. Resigning as CEO of the company will not absolve her of her responsibility as owner. 

A photo of Julie Keiko Fujishima provided by Johnny & Associates. She released a video apology on May 14.

Preventing Future Abuse

Regardless of what her official position might be, she should continue to prioritize apologizing and remedying the damage. That includes preventing such problems from recurring. 

First, she must attend a press conference in person and publicly express remorse for what occurred in the past. She must also explain what steps the company will take in the future to prevent future problems. 

The special team heard testimony that there were "at least several hundred" victims. It further confirmed sexual assaults by employees other than Johnny Kitagawa himself took place. The pattern of misconduct was definitely not his alone. 

More specifically, the report described the acts in question as "same-sex sexual assaults against minors within a one-sided relationship between a strong party and weak party."

The targets were members of Johnny's Juniors. They were boys as young as 10 who were recruited into a talent pool. Members of the popular boy bands the company was famous for were drawn from that pool. The report adds that these youngsters knew full well that they could not speak up about the abuse. If they did so, they would be labeled as liars and their future in the entertainment industry finished.

Former Johnny's Jr members Kauan Okamoto (right) and Yasushi Hashida attend a Diet hearing on the afternoon of May 16. (© Sankei by Haruna Naka)

Responsibility to Help the Victims

The revelations about what went on within Johnny's and Associates are nothing less than horrifying. 

Regarding the responsibility of the mass media, the report says: "Because many mass media outlets failed to address the issue forthrightly the company was unable to clean house. And that reinforced the culture of concealment."


"As a result, sexual assaults also continued, resulting in even more victims," the report added.

There are no words sufficient to counter these shattering revelations. There is no denying that The Sankei Shimbun failed to report the problem. So did nearly all other print and broadcast media organizations. 

We must reflect on how we fell short. Moreover, we must now fulfill our responsibility as media organizations. That means keeping a close eye on how Johnny & Associates handle the issue of compensation for those who suffered sexual abuse as well as how the entertainment industry and society change in the future.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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