Japan's top male talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc. renamed itself Smile-Up Inc. on Tuesday in a bid to distance itself from its late namesake founder Johnny Kitagawa, against whom hundreds of sexual abuse allegations have been made.

File photo taken Oct. 16, 2023, shows the building of talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc., a day before the company changed its name to Smile-Up. (Kyodo)

The company unveiled earlier this month its plan to change its name and provide redress to the victims of Kitagawa, who died in 2019. Payments are scheduled to start in November, and Smile-Up will close as an entity once it finishes compensating the victims.

After midnight, the company's official website transitioned to a new design with Smile-Up branding, and "Johnny's," which long served as a brand name for male idols, disappeared.

Boy bands carrying "Johnny's" or other names associated with it will subsequently change their names as well.

The company said in September it would keep Johnny's as its name but reversed its stance after facing a backlash from corporate clients that used its performers.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK and commercial broadcasters also criticized the company's response as inappropriate.

A fan takes photos on Oct. 16, 2023, of a Johnny's store in Osaka selling goods related to idols associated with talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc. (Kyodo)

During a press conference on Oct. 2, President Noriyuki Higashiyama announced the name change. He also said a separate talent agency will be established to manage former Johnny & Associates performers who decide to ink new contracts, and fans will help pick the new company's name.

As of the end of September, a victim relief committee established by the former talent agency had received compensation requests from 325 individuals.

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