The new firm established to manage Johnny & Associates Inc. performers unveiled its company name Friday as Starto Entertainment Inc., in a bid to start afresh following a sex abuse scandal involving the late founder of the former male talent agency.
The company name, selected from among more than 140,000 suggestions from fans, is derived from "star(s)," referring to current and prospective performers, and "to" in Japanese, which means "with," the firm said, vowing to commit to supporting each performer's talents and personal goals.
Atsushi Fukuda, chief executive of consulting firm Speedy Inc. and former vice president at Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) Inc., has assumed the role of chief executive, the new firm said, adding it will start full-fledged operations from next April.
The plan to establish a new firm to manage former Johnny's performers, who chose to sign new contracts, was announced in October in a bid to create distance from the late Johnny Kitagawa, who was found to have sexually abused male teens for decades.
Johnny & Associates has renamed itself Smile-Up Inc. and is now dedicated to providing redress to the sexual abuse victims. Smile-Up will be disbanded once the victims have been compensated.
The allegations against Kitagawa, who died in 2019, came under renewed scrutiny after a BBC documentary was aired in March featuring interviews with multiple people claiming to have been abused by the pop mogul.
After the documentary was aired, several former agency members came forward with accusations of abuse suffered during their teenage years, eventually leading Johnny's to admit the sexual abuse had taken place and offer redress to the victims.
Johnny's was formed in 1962 and went on to propel SMAP, Arashi and numerous other groups to stardom.