Julie Fujishima, President of Johnny & Associates, released a statement on behalf of the company earlier today in regards to the sexual abuse allegations against her late uncle, company founder Johnny Kitagawa.
“Regarding the issue of sexual assault by our late founder Johnny Kitagawa, we sincerely apologize for causing great disappointment and anxiety,” the statement opened. Fujishima then answered a series of questions.
Why didn’t you respond to these allegations sooner?
I wanted to check the facts first, and then do the responsible thing.
As this was an extremely delicate and sensitive issue that also involved personal privacy, we worked with experts such as counselors and lawyers, to meet face to face with those who spoke up. We had an internal investigation, to figure out countermeasures, and this is why it took so long for me to speak. I apologize for the late response.
How do you feel about the BBC documentary and Kauan Okamoto accusations?
If it is true, first of all, how do we deal with those who have made these allegations? Also even the survival of the company is questioned, so I accept that this is a very serious issue.
After thoroughly checking the facts, I thought I had to respond sincerely.
Are the BBC documentary and Kauan Okamoto accusations true?
Both as a company and as an individual, I believe that such conduct itself is absolutely unacceptable.
On the other hand, Johnny Kitagawa can not confirm, therefore we can not either. In addition, we must also consider secondary damage, like slander, due to speculation. I ask for your understanding regarding this matter.
That being said, we do take these allegations very seriously.
Did you and the company know about these allegations previously?
It’s unforgivable story, but I didn’t know.
In order to explain this, I need to explain how the company operated at the time. When I was interviewed by Shukan Bunshun in 1999, even though I was a director for a long time, Johnny Kitagawa produced the talent, while Mary Kitagawa was in full control of company management. These two alone made all the decisions. Because of this, I was in a situation where I couldn’t talk about management and operations of the company, only my own role.
Also, what happened outside of the jurisdiction, what kind of instructions there were, things like this were not known company-wide. There was no board of directors. Important things related things related to company management, like this, were only know by Johnny and Mary.
Looking back on things, I don’t think that was normal. However, we have grown until this system since our founding 1962. I think that everyone accepted this Johnny and Mary system as the company’s system. I felt comfortable with this unusual system, and I am deeply regretful.
In 2003, the high court ruled against you in the Shukan Bunshun case. Why not face the abuse allegations then? Didn’t you do anything else?
In regards to this lawsuit, Mary was indignant at the Shukan Bunshun article, calling it “an unforgivable lie.” Johnny & Associates sued them for defamation. No details were shared with me, and I’m ashamed of this. I was not able to grasp the details until I checked with the company lawyer who was in charge of the trial at the time.
It’s just my guess, but Mary also responded to Johnny’s questionable behavior. She thought from the bottom of her heart, “It can’t be.” I think she sued herself in court.
In the end, we partially lost the lawsuit, as Shukan Bunshun was found to not be defamatory. According to our lawyer in the case, Johnny strongly denied any wrongdoing. He and Mary gave Johnny a strict warning of “Don’t do anything that could be misconstrued.”
and it was decided that the article in Shukan Bunshun could not be said to be defamatory. However, Johnny himself strongly denied any wrongdoing, and in the end, it seems that Mary and his lawyer only gave Johnny a strict warning, “Don’t do anything that could be misunderstood.” In any case, for me personally as a director at that time, I think I made a major mistake by not doing more.
What are your thoughts on measures to prevent this from happening again?
As far as that, from the early stages we’ve been speaking to lawyers and experts in various fields, listening to suggestions and opinions regarding the company’s problems and how to fix them. Since I’ve become president, we’ve abandoned the notion that the entertainment world is special, and instead worked to strengthen compliance. We now have measures such as an anonymous hotline, briefing sessions for minors along with their guardians, compliance education, and talents participating in activities from their homes as opposes to dorms.
However, in response to this issue, and to prevent similar things from happening in the future, we have established a compliance committee with the participation of outside parties. We will also further strengthen and implement out initiatives.
In addition, external external factors such as whether there are any concerns about the company’s ideals and social responsibilities, whether there is appropriate communication inside and outside the company, and whether decisions are made based only on internal values and common sense. We are currently in the process of selecting and requesting outside directors to take on the role of pointing things out with a stern eye, and to fundamentally review the management system. We plan to announce the new outside directors as soon as they are confirmed.
Also, in terms of the company’s ideals and social responsibility, and whether there is appropriate communication inside and outside the company, and to see if the company is being ran according to its values and common sense, we are bringing in outside directors to review the management system.
Have you met Kauan Okamoto, and if so, why?
We met and talked for a long time. This kind of thing should never happen again. I deeply understand why he raised his voice.
On the other hand, in regards to privacy concerns of others, I have already shared my thoughts in regards to things that may raise speculation.
We have a long way to go, but we have been given the opportunity to change.
How do you plan to deal with those who have made these allegations?
This is sensitive, but details are under consideration. For the people who are coming forward, for those who are suffering mentally, we will meet with them with counselors and experts. We believe that there is no future without this.
How do you feel about your own management responsibilities? If you are responsible for this, how will you take responsibility?
I believe that I have a responsibility. At that time, I was a director, and I was not able to fulfill my duties. I also believe that I am responsible for not actively pursuing this topic more. In regards to how to take responsibility, I did consider resigning. The only thing to do now is to not run away from the problem, and deal with people who have made allegations, in order to prevent this from happening again. Reforms in management are already underway, and I believe it is necessary to carry out a drastic improvement in terms on internal awareness.
We sincerely accept all criticism. We are continuing to hold discussions with our current talents. I think that’s the only way I can take responsibility.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
This statement was accompnanied by a video of a solemn looking Julie, saying something similar to the answers she gave, which can seen in the link below.