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In the wake of a major scandal involving sexual abuse committed by its late founder, Johnny Kitagawa, the Johnny & Associates talent agency in Japan has decided to dissolve itself. The agency revealed its plan to divide into two entities: one, named Smile-Up, will be solely focused on compensating victims, while the other will continue as a talent agency operating under a new name, which has yet to be determined.
This action comes after the agency faced severe backlash following two extensive investigations that uncovered the widespread and long-standing abuse perpetrated by Johnny Kitagawa. These investigations also revealed that the company and Japanese media had either ignored or covered up the abuse.
Julie Fujishima, the former company president who still owns 100% of the agency, issued a statement expressing her commitment to erasing all traces of Johnny Kitagawa’s legacy from the world. The abuse, which affected boys and young men supposedly under the agency’s care, persisted for over two decades and may have impacted more than a hundred clients. While evidence of Kitagawa’s misconduct had circulated within agency and media circles, it remained an open secret until a BBC documentary in February 2023 brought it to public and corporate attention.
Initially, the agency responded cautiously to the revelations brought forth by the BBC documentary. However, following the outcomes of two third-party investigations, the company acknowledged the factual nature of Kitagawa’s abuses. Despite efforts to address the issue, including the resignation of Julie Fujishima, the establishment of a compensation committee, and a commitment to forfeit a portion of its fee income, the agency continued to face negative publicity and the loss of corporate clients.