Johnny & Associates’ Abuse Investigation Criticized by United Nations

Earlier today, United Nations human rights experts criticized Johnny & Associates for its insufficient handling of sexual abuse allegations against its late founder Johnny Kitagawa, saying that “doubts persist about the transparency and legitimacy” of the third-party investigation team set up by the company.

Two members of the five-member UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights have been in Japan for two weeks investigating wide-ranging human rights issues involving the nation’s businesses. The duo called on the Japanese government to do more to investigate decades of alleged abuse by Johnny, calling the allegations “deeply alarming.”

During their visit, the UN experts said they met with Johnny’s representatives as well as members of Johnny’s Sexual Assault Victims Association, a group of former talents who allege they were abused by Johnny. The experts declined to say who they met with from Johnny & Associates, or if Julie Fujishima, Johnny’s niece and the company’s current president, was someone they met.

“We note that several measures have been taken by the government over the last 20 years in relation to the prevention of child sexual abuse,” Pichamon Yeophantong, a member of the UN working group, told a packed news conference in Tokyo. “However, the perceived inaction by the government and the business involved among victims that we met in this case highlights the need for the government, as the primary duty-bearer, to ensure transparent investigations of perpetrators and that victims obtain effective remedies, be they in the form of an apology or financial compensation.”

They also said that there is a need for a clear timeline of the investigation. Just as the UN press conference wrapped up, the Johnny & Associates announced on its website that it will hold its first news conference to address the allegations soon after the third-party investigation team releases its report around the end of August.

The company’s statement read, “We sincerely apologize for the great concern and anxiety inflicted on everyone with regards to the issue of sex abuse by our late founder Johnny Kitagawa. We will hold a news conference to explain the measures we plan to take as soon as possible following the receipt of proposals from the special team.”

Akimasa Nihongi, a member of the victims’ group who has been interviewed by both the Johnny’s-commissioned investigation team and the UN experts, recounted the difference in their approaches.

“Since the investigation team is paid for by Johnny & Associates, it seemed to me that its aim was to recommend how the agency can prevent the recurrence (of abuse), not to provide relief to the victims,” he told a separate news conference later Friday. “In the interview by the UN working group, I wasn’t asked many questions; they were eager to listen and understand our feelings throughout the session, looking straight at our eyes.”

Shimon Ishimaru, another member of the victims’ group, called for other victims to come forward with their stories, promising to protect them.

The UN working group’s investigation also covered issues related to the release of treated radioactive water from, and the harsh working conditions of some workers at, the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, as well as the exploitation of migrant workers and technical interns in Japan. The experts called on the Japanese government to conduct human rights due diligence and establish an independent national human rights institution to promote corporate accountability and provide proper compensation to the victims.

The UN experts said they will compile and present a full report on Japan’s situation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2024. The report will include concrete recommendations for the government and businesses.



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