Fujishima ‘Julie’ Keiko has quit as president of Johnny and Associates, the Japanese talent agency that is embroiled in a poisonous child sex abuse scandal.
The alleged abuses were committed over several decades by company founder the late Johnny Kitagawa, Fujishima’s uncle, two external reports have found. Some of the boys were still of elementary school age when they were allegedly abused.
Fujishima will be replaced as president by actor Higashiyama Noriyuki, a long-term employee of the powerhouse agency and host of the TV Asahi show “Sunday LIVE!!”
The company held a press conference on Thursday to announce the leadership change and take press questions over its responses and remedies to the scandal.
During the event, both Higashiyama and Fujishima acknowledged that Kitagawa committed acts of sexual abuse against young agency talents prior to his death at age 87 in 2019.
The company last week published the damning findings of an external report that it had commissioned. The investigators were former Prosecutor General Hayashi Makoto, psychiatrist Asukai Nozomu and practicing clinical psychologist Saito Azusa. They held meetings with 41 former Johnny’s clients and senior staff between May and August.
The report said that the company must accept that the claims of abuse are true, apologize and make amends. It recommended that Fujishima depart in order to avoid issues of family control and to ensure “total reform” of the company. Additionally, the report noted “neglect and concealment” and “sloppy management” at Johnny’s Junior and failures of oversight by the company’s management board.
The findings of the three investigators were closely in line with the interim findings published in August by a United Nations team which probed workplace human rights in Japan, but paid special attention to Johnny and Associates.
“Our interactions with victims of sexual harassment involving Johnny and Associates talents have exposed deeply alarming allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving several hundreds of the company’s talents, with media companies in Japan reportedly implicated in covering up the scandal for decades,” said the UN group’s end-of-mission statement.
Since the publication of the second report last week, Japanese media companies including broadcasters, Fuji TV, TV Asahi, TBS, NTV, TV Tokyo have issued statements. They pledged to monitor the agency’s reaction and protect talents against future abuse and other human rights violations.