Men who say they were abused by a Japanese boy band producer criticise the company’s response
TOKYO (AP) — Members of a group of men who say they were sexually abused as boys by a Japanese entertainment mogul are accusing the company behind the scandal, previously known as Johnny’s, of not being sincere in dealing with the victims.
Shimon Ishimaru, who represents the victims’ group, said many have not yet received compensation. The group has asked to meet with company officials, but that has not happened, he said at a news conference with three other men who said they were victims.
Ishimaru is among hundreds of men who have come forward since last year, alleging they were sexually abused as teens by boy band producer Johnny Kitagawa. Kitagawa, who died in 2019, was never charged and remained powerful in the entertainment industry.
The company finally acknowledged Kitagawa’s long-rumoured abuse last year. The company’s chief made a public apology in May. The Japanese government has also pushed for compensation.
The company, which has changed its name from Johnny & Associates to Smile-Up, said Monday it has received requests for compensation from 939 people. Of those, 125 have received compensation, it said in a statement. The company has set up a panel of three former judges to look into the claims.
“We are proceeding with those with whom we have reached an agreement on payments,” it said, while promising to continue with its efforts.
It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday’s news conference.
The victims’ group said it has been approached by dozens of people who had been told by the company that there was not enough evidence to honor their claims. Details were not disclosed.
The company’s production business, known previously as Johnny’s, has continued under a different name, Starto Entertainment.
According to multiple accounts, Kitagawa abused the boys in his Tokyo luxury mansion, as well as other places, such as his car and overseas hotels, while they were performing as Johnny’s dancers and singers. The abuse continued for several decades.
The repercussions of the scandal have spread. In standup comedy, several women have alleged sexual abuse by a famous comic. He has denied the allegations.
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, which is investigating the Johnny’s abuse cases, is to issue a report in June, including recommendations for change.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Kitagawa’s recent accusers have given their names. Critics say what happened and the silence of Japan’s mainstream media are indicative of how the world’s third largest economy lags in protecting human rights.