A team Investigating allegations of sexual assault the late founder of a powerful boy band talent agency has believed the allegations to be credible and on Tuesday called for compensation for the victims and the resignation of the current CEO.
The three-month investigation included interviews with 23 victimsconcluded that Johnny Kitagawa sexually assaulted and abused boys as early as the 1950s, targeting at least several hundred people.
The investigative panel said Johnny & Associates needed to apologize, step up compliance measures and educate its ranks on human rights.
According to the special team, Julie Keiko Fujishima, the general manager, has to resign because she has done nothing for years.
Kitagawa died in 2019 and was never charged.
“The company’s cover-up allowed the sexual abuse to continue unchecked for so long,” investigative team leader Makoto Hayashi told reporters in Tokyo. “There were many opportunities to take action.”
Critics say the events at “Johnny’s,” as the Tokyo-based company is known, highlight Japan’s lack of awareness of rape, sexual harassment and human rights.
Public opinion is often hostile to people who claim to be victims of sex offenders.
In Johnny’s case, about a dozen men have come forward in recent months accusing Kitagawa, the agency’s founder, of sexual abuse while performing as a teenager. More people are expected to come forward, the report said.
Fujishima has only apologized for its “disappointment and concern” about the case in a short online video.
It is unclear whether she will resign.
While rumors of abuse at Johnny’s have circulated over the years and several tell-all books have been published, Japan’s mainstream media has remained silent.
Serious questions surfaced again this year after BBC News produced a feature focusing on several people claiming to be Kitagawa victims.
Another turning point came earlier this month when the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights urged the Japanese government to act.
The group also accused Japan’s mainstream media of what it called a “cover-up.”
According to the allegationsKitagawa invited young singers and dancers, many of them children, to stay at his luxury home.
When he told one of them to go to bed early, everyone knew “it was your turn,” those who spoke told the panel.
The boys were raped by Kitagawa when they were 14 or 15 years old and then gave them 10,000 yen bills (about $100), the report said.
It added that victims feared punishment if they refused.
It encourages more people to come forward and promises their privacy will be protected and no physical evidence of sexual assault is required.
Those who spoke out said they were painfully traumatized, unable to tell anyone, not even family, and still suffering from flashbacks and depression, the report said.