A Japanese talent agency previously known as Johnny & Associates Inc. admitted Thursday that two of its former staffers were involved in sexual abuse against its performers.

The agency made the matter public in a statement on its website soon after the BBC published an interview with Noriyuki Higashiyama, a former singer who serves as president of the Tokyo-based company.

One of the two staffers was a former manager of Higashiyama, it said, adding that both have already left the company, which is now renamed Smile-Up Inc.

File photo taken in October 2023 in Tokyo shows the office building of the company formerly known as Johnny & Associates Inc. (Kyodo)

The talent agency, once the most influential in Japan, has come under fire since last year due to allegations that its founder Johnny Kitagawa had sexually abused its performers. Kitagawa died in 2019.

In the BBC interview, which took place in February, Higashiyama said he had heard that two staffers of the company were involved in sexual abuse against its performers and pledged to cooperate in investigations if victims file a criminal complaint.

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