Crime & Justice

Disgraced Japanese talent agency changes name, promises redress

Tokyo, Oct 2 (EFE).- Japan’s largest talent agency announced Monday it would rename itself Smile-Up starting this month and will spin off its representation business into a subsidiary to focus on compensation for victims of sexual abuse that occurred for decades within the company.

With the reorganization, effective Oct. 17, Johnny and Associates will stop representing and training artists to focus on compensation for victims, scheduled to begin in November, company President Noriyuki Higashiyama said in a news conference.

Until the end of September, 478 people had gone to the consultation mechanism for victims of abuse enabled by the company after the outbreak of the scandal, he said.

The company is conducting a review of the complaints and has so far recognized 150 people as victims, a number expected to increase, while continuing to study how many are eligible for compensation.

The amount and form of compensation will vary depending on the case.

Since its creation, Johnny’s was a constant source of rumors about the alleged sexual abuse its founder, the late Johnny Kitagawa, would have committed against underage males who were training as applicants within the agency to become artists.

The agency publicly acknowledged the assaults for the first time in early September, after a news report triggered an internal investigation that determined that abuses were frequent from its founding in the 1960s until Kitagawa’s death in 2019.

Many victims said these types of acts were normalized among the agency’s young people because they knew that if they did not agree, they would have to give up their careers.

“The company is going to assume its social responsibility” and with the creation of a new firm for the representation of artists it seeks to “completely say goodbye to Kitagawa,” Higashiyama said.

The change in the agency’s identity comes after a large number of its clients said they would stop using the services of Johnny’s artists in their promotional campaigns in an attempt to disassociate themselves from the scandal.

Among the companies that cut ties with the agency are the beverage company Asahi, the airline Japan Airlines, insurer Nippon Life and public television network NHK.

Kitagawa was a well-known producer and agent revered in the country for creating a formula for stardom still used in the K-Pop and J-Pop industries in South Korea and Japan, attracting young people and training them until their eventual debut. EFE


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