Japan’s top talent agency Johnny & Associates said on Monday (Oct 2) it would split into two entities – one devoted to compensating victims of sexual abuse by its late founder, adding that 325 people have sought damages so far.
It will also be changing its name, disassociating itself from its founder Johnny Kitagawa.
The agency, which represents only male entertainers, admitted in September that Kitagawa, who died at age 87 in 2019, had abused hundreds of boys and young men seeking stardom going back to at least the 1970s.
His niece Julie Fujishima also resigned as agency president that month, apologising and promising reform and compensation.
New president Noriyuki Higashiyama said the agency, commonly known as Johnny’s, would change its name to Smile-Up and focus on compensating Kitagawa’s victims before being dissolved.
A separate company would be spun off to take over the talent management business, renewing contracts with individuals or groups wishing to stay, he said at a briefing. Its new name will be chosen by fans of its entertainers.
The first media reports of Kitagawa’s abuse were carried by local tabloid Shukan Bunshun in 1999, but the scandal blew wide open in 2023 as more victims came forward after a report by the BBC in March.
Following the agency’s acknowledgement of the abuse in September, dozens of major companies have said they would end their contracts with its entertainers.
In a statement by Fujishima read out in her absence, the former chief executive, who owns 100% of the agency, said it was her duty as Kitagawa's kin to put an end to Johnny & Associates.
“I want to remove all traces of Johnny Kitagawa from this world,” her statement added. – Reuters