Just over four years ago, Japanese morning television had a collective cry over the passing of Johnny Kitagawa. The 87-year-old founder of powerhouse talent agency Johnny & Associates died of a stroke on July 9, 2019, and TV was transformed into a string of memorial services.
This past week, the attention was back on Kitagawa — but for an aspect of his music career that was notably missing during those fervent tributes of 2019.
On Thursday, news shows, livestreams and thousands of users on X (formerly Twitter) watched as Julie Keiko Fujishima, Kitagawa’s niece, acknowledged that the company founder had sexually abused agency employees for decades. (A recently released report by a third-party team concluded that Kitagawa started sexually abusing boys in the 1950s when he was in his 20s, and then young boy band members at his agency from the 1970s to the 2010s.) Fujishima then resigned as president of the company, passing control over to Johnny’s talent Noriyuki Higashiyama (who is also facing abuse allegations).