The Japanese expertise company Johnny & Associates, whose late founder has been accused of sexually abusing a whole bunch of boys and younger males, will change its title and set up a brand new agency to handle upcoming artists, because it struggles to restore its battered fame.
The company’s president, Noriyuki Higashiyama, instructed a televised press convention on Monday that the corporate could be renamed Smile-Up, as a part of its makes an attempt to distance itself from its disgraced founder, Johnny Kitagawa.
The agency’s function could be restricted to addressing compensation claims by survivors of Kitagawa’s alleged sexual abuse, whereas a second as but unnamed firm could be set as much as proceed the work of discovering and nurturing new expertise, Higashiyama mentioned.
“We’ll disband Johnny & Associates and face the victims in a honest method,” mentioned Higashiyama, a former actor and singer with the company. “The brand new firm will create a brand new future with its followers.”
Johnny & Associates – the inventive drive behind a string of profitable boybands – had come underneath strain to vary its title due to its reference to Kitagawa, whose alleged abuse has shaken Japan’s leisure world.
“The criticism was comprehensible … we wish to construct a brand new future underneath a brand new title,” Higashiyama mentioned, including that followers could be invited to submit names for the newly launched expertise company.
The prevailing firm will likely be often called Smile-Up from 17 October, mentioned Higashiyama, who just lately changed Kitagawa’s niece, Julie Fujishima, as president.
A panel set as much as tackle the abuse claims has been consulted by 478 survivors, and 325 have sought compensation. Funds are anticipated to start in November.
Fujishima admitted for the primary time this month that Kitagawa had abused recruits hoping to develop into the faces of Japan’s strongest expertise company, whose acts are an everyday fixture on TV and in promoting.
However the preliminary determination to retain the title Johnny & Associates drew criticism from survivors and the general public, whereas a number of firms together with Nissan and Japan Airways reduce or suspended industrial ties with the company.
A ballot carried out final month by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper discovered that 55% of respondents supported a reputation change, with 36% opposed.
Allegations that Kitagawa, who died in 2019 aged 87, had sexually abused younger males first appeared within the weekly journal Shūkan Bunshun in 1999.
Kitagawa sued Bunshun for libel and was awarded damages however the judgment was partially overturned on attraction, with the Tokyo excessive court docket ruling in 2004 that the journal had enough purpose to publish the allegations. Kitagawa’s attraction was rejected by the supreme court docket. He was by no means charged with a criminal offense.
His conduct grew to become the main focus of renewed media consideration after the printed in March of a BBC documentary, Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop.
The next month, Kauan Okamoto, who had been employed by the company as a 15-year-old, went public with allegations of abuse, telling reporters he had been sexually assaulted by Kitagawa on 15-20 events. A number of different former members of the company got here ahead with comparable allegations.