Johnny and Associates, the high-profile Japanese talent agency whose deceased founder and long-time president Johnny Kitagawa has been revealed as a serial sexual abuser, will forgo some of its fee income as a step toward victim compensation.
The move appears to be an attempt to lessen the company’s toxic brand following the now-confirmed revelations about the late Kitagawa’s predatory behavior.
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In a statement posted on Wednesday to its corporate website, Johnny and Associates said: “For the next year, all performance fees for advertisements and program appearances will be paid to the talent themselves, and we will not receive compensation as an entertainment production company.” While not specifically stated, that year is understood to start from the beginning of October.
Johnny’s said that further measures will be announced later this month. But, it has already set up a victim relief committee, to be operated by three former judges; a compensation application system; and appointed a chief compliance office to implement basic human rights policies within the company.
The abuse of boys and young men supposedly under the agency’s care went on for more than two decades and may have affected more than 100 clients, a recent report found. The abuse by Kitagawa, who died in 2019, was seemingly widely-known in agency and media circles, but remained an open secret. Evidence of Kitagawa’s abuse was even presented in a 2003 defamation court hearing, but it took a further 20 years and a BBC documentary (which premiered in February) to bring matters to public and corporate attention.
The company initially took a cautious approach to the succession of victim statements that the BBC report triggered. But, following two detailed reports, one from a United Nations special team and the other from a panel of experts appointed by Johnny’s, the company now clearly acknowledges that Kitagawa’s decades of sexual assaults are a matter of fact.
“We are aware that the late Johnny Kitagawa committed sexual assault over a long period of time, and we would like to sincerely apologize to the victims,” the company said again on Wednesday.
The scale of the scandal has been huge — last week’s four-hour press conference at which company president and Kitagawa’s niece Julie Fujishima resigned was livestreamed by several local broadcasters — and the company’s image and operations have been damaged.
McDonald’s Japan, automaker Nissan and beer giant Kirin have said that they were dissociating themselves from Johnny’s, Japanese media reported Wednesday. “No form of human rights violation is tolerable,” McDonald’s Japan told media.
The Japan Times newspaper reports that drinks maker Suntory, insurance giant Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire, Japan Airlines and Asahi have all said that they will no longer use Johnny and Associates talent in their commercials.
The paper quoted a Suntory spokesman as saying: “Our company strongly urges Johnny’s to outline specific plans for reparation to the victims as well as prevention measures including strengthening of the agency’s governance.”
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