Entertainment giant Johnny & Associates, embroiled in a scandal over sexual abuse accusations against its late founder Johnny Kitagawa, said Thursday that its president had stepped down to take responsibility and was replaced by senior agency performer Noriyuki Higashiyama.

Julie Keiko Fujishima, who stepped down as president Tuesday, recognized that Kitagawa, her uncle, sexually abused young boy band members at the agency — the first time the agency has acknowledged that sexual abuse had occurred.

In mid-May, Fujishima apologized to people who had come forward as victims of sexual abuse but she said she was not aware of the abuse, triggering criticism from them.