Earlier today, the report from the third party investigation into the claims of sexual abuse by Johnny Kitagawa was released. Johnny’s Sexual Assault Victims Association, an advocacy group composed of Kitagawa victims, released a statement in reaction to the report.
The statement was composed by Junya Hiramoto, who is the group’s representative. He is was in Johnnys’ Jr. in the 80s, and was abused by Kitagawa starting in 1980, from the ages of 13 to 18. After leaving the company in 1986, he spoke of his abuse in a number of books, including Koji Kita‘s 1989 book “Hikaru GENJI e.” He also appeared in the BBC documetary “Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop” earlier this year.
Junya read the report and also watched the press conference about it afterwards, and then shared his thoughts.
He said that the fact that the report said that the sexual abuse is a fact is a great achievement for the group, and it reflects that their heartbreaking confessions have been truly heard. He also spoke of the panel saying at the press conference that it was very difficult to make this decision in light of there being no proof or evidence. On behalf of the JSAVA members who were interviewed, he thanked the panel.
Junya also spoke of Mary Kitagawa knowing things, as well as President Julie Fujishima and Vice President Suguru Shirahase being in a position where they could see things, but chose not to do anything about this issue. All of these incidents are examples of the concealment and complicity, which was something that was brought up as an issue in the report.
JSAVA has an issue though with the report saying where responsibility lies. The group questions why the panel said that Fujishima should resign, with no mention of Shirahase, when he knows even more than her, meaning that he has greater responsbility.
Junya said that he is not asking for Fujishima’s resignation, nor does he want it. He said that even though the report says that her resignation is needed for the company to have a fresh start by ending its status as a family-run business, he believes that her resigning is a means of her avoiding her responsibility in this situation.
He added that Fujishima was the only heir of Kitagawa, inheriting everything of his, including Johnny & Associates. This huge inheritance also includes the “debt” of sexual abuse. It is only natural that the person who inherited everything from Kitagawa should take responsibility for his actions. However, Junya believes that Shirahase, who has seen everything, should take responsibility in way that is different from resignation.
Junya said that the statement of the abuse as fact was the most important thing, and that the apology is the second most important part. He said that he felt a glimpse of hope for a promising future when the report strongly advocated for “immediate relief and compensation.” JSAVA will continue to ask Johnny’s how they will deal with this recommendation, and await their response.
A one-side compensation proposal from Johnny & Associates would be hard to accept, so recently Junya spoke to the panel and to the company about a compensation proposal that is two-sided, with ideas from the company and the victim.
He was struck by the line in the report that read, “Human rights must take precedence over anything else. I want Johnny & Associates to take the initiative and take the attitude of actively changing the entire entertainment industry. I hope that the company will take the lead and play a role in changing the Japanese entertainment industry.” Junya said that this is exactly what he feels, almost verbatim.
Junya said that he, Shimon Ishimaru, and Akimasa Nihongi were interviewed by the panel. He found them to be polite and well studied. He was grateful to be able to tell his story to them, saying that the report exceeded his expectations.
After he ended his statement, Junya wrote an extra comment, which that he never believed that his story, which he has been telling for over 30 years, would be recognized in this way. He said that he worked with the BBC because Japanese media would not listen to him. He said that the Japanese media’s role in this whole thing should also be investigated, but for the time being, he is grateful.