The pinnacle of a strong Japanese expertise company resigned Thursday (Sept. 7) and made an apology punctuated by repeated, prolonged bows, 9 days after an inner investigation concluded that its founder had sexually abused hundreds of young performers over a long time.
Julie Keiko Fujishima introduced she was stepping down as president of Johnny & Associates, the company based by her late uncle Johnny Kitagawa, and promised to contribute to a compensation fund from her personal fortune.
“That is what my uncle dedicated, and as a niece, I need to take duty,” Fujishima mentioned solemnly. Fujishima mentioned the alleged intercourse abuse had actually occurred and that she would keep on the corporate’s board to see by a sufferer compensation program.
A gaggle of males who accused Kitagawa of raping them as youngsters mentioned they have been happy the corporate apologized, however some had reservations.
“The injuries in my coronary heart is not going to heal,” Yukihiro Oshima advised reporters. “However I really feel just a little higher.”
Fujishima stays the only proprietor of Johnny’s, and her substitute faces his personal allegations of mistreating younger performers.
Rumors that Kitagawa had abused youngsters adopted his profession for many years, however his energy allowed him to silence nearly all allegations till his demise in 2019. The corporate agreed to analyze earlier this 12 months, after the BBC aired a documentary that spoke with a number of accusers and others started to come ahead by title.
The three-month probe concluded that Johnny Kitagawa sexually assaulted and abused boys way back to the Fifties and focused a minimum of a number of hundred individuals.
The corporate named a 56-year-old performer as its new chief. Noriyuki Higashiyama mentioned he was retiring as an actor and singer to take the job, a job that can embody overseeing compensation for males who have been assaulted as youngsters.
“A horrendous crime has been dedicated,” Higashiyama advised reporters at a Tokyo lodge, bowing deeply with Fujishima.
“It would take time to win again belief, and I’m placing my life on the road for this effort.”
Higashiyama instantly fielded questions on allegations that he had engaged in bullying or sexually abusing different Johnny’s boys.
“I don’t bear in mind clearly; possibly it occurred, possibly it didn’t,” he mentioned.
He acknowledged he tended to be strict with youthful performers, and that he might have finished issues as a teen or in his 20s that he wouldn’t do now. A brand new firm construction, which is able to embody an outdoor compliance officer, shall be introduced subsequent month, Fujishima mentioned.
At one level, she choked down tears, stressing the achievements of the corporate’s singers and dancers. “I solely really feel deep gratitude to all of the followers,” she mentioned. Kitagawa had been so highly effective that she, and lots of others, had saved silent, she added.
The boys who’ve come ahead say Kitagawa raped, fondled and abused them whereas they have been working for his firm as dancers and singers.
Most of the victims have been members of a backup group known as Johnny’s Jr., who danced and sang behind larger stars. One man who got here ahead not too long ago mentioned he was routinely molested when Kitagawa had but to discovered his firm. He was simply 8 years previous.
Higashiyama denied he was a sufferer. He mentioned Kitagawa had been like a father to him, whereas denouncing his acts as “essentially the most pathetic within the historical past of humankind.” When he discovered what Kitagawa had finished, he felt as if he had misplaced every thing, Higashiyama recalled.
“Whether or not I’m certified to tackle this job, you be the choose,” he mentioned.
Individually, Guinness World Data mentioned it had stripped Kitagawa of all of the data he had held, resembling No. 1 hits, in accordance with its coverage towards “criminals.”