The president of Johnny & Associates Inc., one of Japan's most powerful talent agencies, on Sunday issued a video and written apology to those who have alleged sexual abuse by its late founder Johnny Kitagawa, in a rare move for the office.
The apology by Julie Keiko Fujishima, a niece of the scandal-tainted former president of the company, came a month after Kauan Okamoto, a Japanese-Brazilian singer and songwriter, claimed Kitagawa sexually abused him on multiple occasions as a young teen.
"First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest apologies" to those who have asserted they are victims, Fujishima said, adding she was not aware of the actions taken by Kitagawa against talents affiliated with the agency.
Kitagawa was also the subject of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, with the Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun publishing in 1999 a series detailing accusations of child abuse and sexual exploitation by several boys he had taken under his wing.
Fujishima said, "I cannot confirm with Johnny Kitagawa, who is the person in question," but added she is committed to implementing measures to address the needs of the victims.
At a press conference in April, Okamoto said he was abused by Kitagawa about 15 to 20 times between 2012 and 2016 when he was still a member of the agency. He said he knew of at least three others who had gone through similar ordeals.
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.
The allegations surrounding Kitagawa have garnered the spotlight abroad after the BBC aired a documentary in March that included interviews with people besides Okamoto who said they had been sexually abused by the music mogul.
Fans demand Johnny's talent agency investigate sexual abuse claims
Ex-J-pop hopeful alleges sexual abuse by late music mogul Kitagawa
Japanese entertainers mourn death of Johnny Kitagawa
Japanese entertainment mogul Johnny Kitagawa dies at age 87