Japan's public broadcaster NHK on Monday reported a man has alleged the late founder of scandal-hit male talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc. sexually abused him as a high schooler at its broadcasting center in Tokyo.
According to the report, the man, now in his 30s, joined a dance lesson at the center in the fall of 2002, hoping to be cast in a music program featuring the agency's performers. He was taken to a male restroom by Johnny Kitagawa during a break where he was sexually abused in a stall.
The man said he was abused about five times in total until he refused Kitagawa's advances several months later, with the talent agency subsequently ceasing to invite him to the dance lessons, the report said.
The lessons were held for a music program, "The Shonen Club," starring members of Johnny's Jr., a talent pool of male idols in training who had yet to make their contracted debut in a group or solo act.
In a video aired during the news program, the man said, "I was deeply impacted, realizing that my dreams could not come true unless I endure the abuse. I seriously thought about what I should do next."
The man said he began to realize "what was going on at the time was indeed wrong" after several former members of the agency came forward with abuse allegations in the wake of the airing of a BBC documentary in March featuring interviews with multiple people claiming to have been abused by the pop mogul.
He said he now feels strong resentment that his dream was derailed as a result of the abuse by Kitagawa.
"The Shonen Club," literally meaning boys' club, started in 2000 and is still being aired.
"We take the (man's) statement seriously. It is an issue that cannot be overlooked, and we will take further steps to protect the safety and the rights of those who appear" in its programs, an NHK official told Kyodo News.
Regarding "The Shonen Club" program, the official said NHK is considering a "complete" review, including making changes to the title and content of the program.
The agency on Monday urged media organizations to ensure there is "sufficient verification" of claims by people coming forward with allegations of abuse by Kitagawa.
"We have information of several cases where those who are highly likely not victims are using real victims' statements" to formulate false complaints, the agency said, adding the compensation could be paid to people who are not victims.
As the sex abuse scandal unfolded, Johnny & Associates apologized for Kitagawa's crimes and said it would change its name to "Smile-Up" on Oct. 17. The company pledged to dedicate itself to paying reparations to victims abused by Kitagawa over the decades before his death in 2019.
It said it would begin from November paying compensation to the victims of sexual abuse. They had received 325 complaints as of the end of September.
Once the compensation process is complete, the entertainment behemoth, which was formed in 1962 and went on to propel SMAP, Arashi and numerous other groups to stardom, said it will cease operating.