#PopVultures Podcast: Unpacking the Johnny & Associates sexual abuse scandal

In April 2023, Japanese-Brazilian singer Kauan Okamoto said he was repeatedly molested by the late Mr Kitagawa, who established the Japanese entertainment empire Johnny & Associates, also known as Johnny’s. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Synopsis: Each month, The Straits Times examines the ins and outs of pop culture in the Asian entertainment and Hollywood scene.

#PopVultures host Jan Lee examines the major sexual abuse scandal surrounding J-pop boy band agency Johnny & Associates, known for producing groups such as Arashi and Smap as well as the younger, million-seller groups like Snow Man and SixTones. Former idol trainees at the 60-year-old company have come out to accuse the agency’s late founder Johnny Kitagawa, who died in 2019, of a consistent pattern of sexual assault. 

Kitagawa’s niece - Julie Keiko Fuijishima, the current president of the agency - has apologised in light of the snowballing allegations, which first date back to the 1980s, though she did not acknowledge the veracity of these claims.

In this episode, Jan - a long-time Arashi fan - gives a background on Johnny & Associates, who Kitagawa is, and recaps the events that have happened in the current news cycle about the allegations and shares why these allegations.

She shares why these allegations, which first surfaced some 40 years ago, went ignored by mainstream Japanese media for as long as it did. She also discusses her own feelings as a long-time fan of the talents produced by Johnny & Associates.

Highlights (tap/click above):

4:05 What Johnny & Associates is, how the agency works and who Johnny Kitagawa is 

9:56 A recap of key events that have happened in the current news cycle about Kitagawa’s sexual abuse, from a BBC documentary to a public statement from the company’s most veteran talent Noriyuki Higashiyama 

31:53 Thoughts from a long-time fan 

Produced by: Jan Lee (janlee@sph.com.sg), Eden Soh and Penelope Lee

Edited by: Penelope Lee 

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