Johnny & Associates Inc., a leading Japanese talent agency embattled over a sex abuse scandal involving its late founder, is considering launching a new firm to manage its performers in a bid to mitigate the reputational fallout from the revelations, sources close to the matter said Sunday.

The move would come in the wake of criticism against the firm's initial decision not to change its name, derived from its founder Johnny Kitagawa, who abused aspiring teen pop singers for decades before his death in 2019.

The new firm would succeed operations concerning the management of performers associated with Johnny's but would do so under a different name, the sources said. The agency is reportedly considering asking the public to come up with the name for the new company.

File photo taken on Aug. 29, 2023, shows the office building of Johnny & Associates Inc. in Tokyo's Minato Ward. (Kyodo) 

A number of Japanese firms have shown reluctance to continue to use Johnny's performers in their advertising, with many of them reviewing their contracts with the agency since the abuses came to light.

Noriyuki Higashiyama, a veteran performer who recently took over as the new president of Johnny's, is expected to double as chief of the new talent management firm, according to the sources.

Noriyuki Higashiyama, new president of Johnny & Associates Inc., attends a press conference in Tokyo on Sept. 7, 2023. (Kyodo)

Johnny's has said it will hold a press conference on Monday to explain how it will operate in the future and prevent any recurrence of abuse.

Even if the new company is launched, Johnny's itself will continue to exist and will engage in work providing redress for victims, the sources said.

An external probe set up by the agency in response to media reports detailing allegations of sexual abuse by Kitagawa has concluded the company had concealed the late founder's actions from the early 1970s through to the mid-2010s.



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