Another former member of Japan's top male talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc. said Tuesday he was sexually abused as a teenager by the firm's late founder Johnny Kitagawa, with the scandal leading to an apology by the current president.
"When I was about 13, I was sexually abused around two times," Yasushi Hashida, now a dancer and actor, told a Diet hearing he was invited to attend by the main opposition, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
Hashida, 37, came forward with the allegations of abuse after Kauan Okamoto, a 26-year-old former member of Johnny & Associates, did so at a press conference in April. Okamoto, a Japanese-Brazilian singer and songwriter, was also at the hearing.
"For me, it was a big deal," Hashida said, referring to the alleged abuse. "What adults should be doing is creating a place where children can stand up straight and persevere in the world of entertainment without being victimized," he added.
Okamoto, who told the April press conference he was abused by Kitagawa about 15 to 20 times between 2012 and 2016, said in the hearing, "As a minor, it is difficult to say no when a person in a superior position makes demands."
He called for the creation of new legislation to prevent more people becoming victims of sexual abuse.
Okamoto and Hashida were part of Johnny's Jr. at the time the abuse is alleged to have taken place. They were part of a talent pool of male idols in training who had not yet made their debut in a group or solo act.
They have often been seen performing as backup dancers for the agency's established acts.
The allegations surrounding Kitagawa have garnered international attention after the BBC aired a documentary in March that included interviews with people besides Okamoto, who said they had been sexually abused by the late music mogul.
The revelation eventually led Julie Keiko Fujishima, the current president of the company and a niece of Kitagawa, to release a video and a written apology on Sunday in a rare public appearance.
"First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest apologies" to those who have asserted that they are victims, Fujishima said, adding she was not aware of the behavior of Kitagawa toward talents affiliated with the agency.
She also said she cannot confirm the suspected abuse cases as the person in question, Kitagawa, has died, but that she is committed to implementing measures to address the needs of the victims.
Fans of idols belonging to Johnny & Associates have also submitted a petition with around 16,000 signatures, demanding that the firm investigate the allegations of sexual abuse by Kitagawa.
Kitagawa was one of the most revered figures in Japan's entertainment industry, propelling numerous groups such as SMAP, Arashi and Hey! Say! JUMP to stardom before his death in 2019.
But Kitagawa was also the subject of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, with the Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun publishing a series of articles in 1999 that detailed accusations of child abuse and sexual exploitation by several boys he had taken under his wing.
Okamoto said Monday in a YouTube video posted on his channel that he is thankful for Fujishima's apology, saying the process of addressing Kitagawa's alleged abuse against himself and other victims has "finally begun."
"For it to have come to this point was due to many people raising their voices on the issue," Okamoto said.
"Now it will be up to how the agency reacts and what measures they put in place (to prevent abuses from happening again), and how the media handles reporting on it," he added.