Family of dead sex abuse victim still constantly targeted by online slander in Japan

The wife of a man who died soon after revealing he had been abused by the Johnny and Associates Inc. entertainment agency’s founder prays before a box containing his remains in Osaka Prefecture. - Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun

OSAKA: The family of a man who died in an apparent suicide last year soon after claiming he had been sexually abused by the founder of the Johnny and Associates Inc. entertainment agency is still being targeted by slanderous comments online, according to the man’s wife.

In an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, the wife said the online harassment that tormented her husband is causing the family to suffer further even as they still try to get to grips with his death.

“I’ve already lost my husband, so why do I have to endure such ongoing misery,” the man’s wife said.

As well as a constant sense of sorrow that she could not stop the death of her husband eight months ago, the woman feels worn down by the seemingly endless abuse directed at the man and the family online.

“What should I have done?” she asked.

The man’s body was found in the mountains in Minoh, Osaka Prefecture, in October.

Police believe the man in his 40s, an Osaka resident, committed suicide.

The man came forward last year with claims of being sexually abused by the agency’s founder, Johnny Kitagawa, and joined an association comprising former agency members who claim they were victims of Kitagawa.

According to the man’s wife, who also is in her 40s, the slander of her husband started in September 2023, after he had publicly spoken to some media outlets about the abuse.

Social media channels and online bulletin boards were soon inundated with posts about the man, such as: “Lies will soon be exposed,” and, “You just want money, don’t you?”

There were also messages that stated personal information about the man and his family and posts that could be interpreted as death threats.

The man and his wife both grew exhausted by these attacks from people they did not know.

While driving his car three days before his death, the man admitted to his wife, “I knew some insults would come my way, but I didn’t expect my family also would get targeted.”

A note found after the man’s death suggested that he felt his own existence “was nothing more than a nuisance.”

On the day of his death, the man went to work as usual. His work schedule was locked in.

His wife did not notice that the man was feeling so stressed that he had thought about ending his life.

“Was there something I could’ve done to help him?” she said, regret tingeing her voice.

“Maybe he tried to bring the slander to an end by dying.”

However, the anonymous attacks did not let up.

After the man’s death was reported in the media, comments smearing him spread quickly on social media. “Dying a miserable death is what you deserved,” one post said.

Messages aimed at his family also appeared, such as: “The family made him pretend to be a victim.”

Despite the wife’s efforts to avoid seeing such comments, she heard about them from her friends.

She consulted with lawyers and other people, which resulted in some posts containing individual names being deleted.

She also has gone to the police for advice on how to deal with the abusive messages still being posted online.

The man’s wife agreed to conduct this interview because she wants the public to know about the feelings of a bereaved family that has been subjected to such harassment.

“Even if I take someone who posted such messages to court and win my case, I probably can’t delete all the messages. Some people might believe posts that are totally groundless,” said the woman, who desperately wants the slanderous posts to be removed.

“I’m scared that after my children grow up, they might see these messages or their friends may say something to them.”

Johnny and Associates has been renamed Smile-Up. Inc. since the abuse revelations emerged.

When asked to comment for this article, a Smile-Up. representative said: “Slanderous comments toward the victim and the bereaved family are completely unacceptable.

"We will continue to consider steps to deal with this issue, such as by providing information about consultation and support services.” - The Japan News/ANN

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Japan , Osaka , dead , sex abuse , victim , online , slander


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