The government plans to hold a ministerial meeting as early as next week to address the issue of sexual abuse allegations involving Japan's top male talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc., a source close to the matter said Wednesday.
Relevant ministries and agencies are expected to discuss how to avoid similar incidents and support people allegedly sexually abused by the company's late founder Johnny Kitagawa, one of the most revered figures in Japan's entertainment industry.
The allegations surrounding Kitagawa, who propelled numerous groups such as SMAP and Arashi to stardom before his death in 2019 at the age of 87, have garnered international attention after the BBC aired a documentary in March that included interviews with victims.
The Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office, which is responsible for tackling sex crime, as well as the Children and Families Agency, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, along with other relevant organizations, likely will join the gathering, the source said.
Masanobu Ogura, minister in charge of policies related to children, will take the lead in the discussions, with the focus on whether the government can take steps to prevent people with influence over young people from coercing them into sexual acts.
The government also aims to establish a system to make it easier for victims of sexual abuse as well as their parents and guardians to seek assistance in dealing with their traumatic experiences from relevant authorities.
Last month, Johnny's president, Julie Keiko Fujishima, publically apologized for the scandals involving Kitagawa, but stopped short of accepting the claims by people formerly represented by the agency.
Former talent at the Tokyo-based agency who have come forward as victims of the late music mogul have been asking the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to revise the child abuse prevention law to protect minors from similar situations.
Ogura said at a press conference on Tuesday that careful consideration must be given when considering amending the law as the current legislation only encompasses abusive acts by parents or guardians and does not include abuse by anyone else.