On August 29, the third party investigation looking into the Johnny Kitagawa sexual abuse allegations released their report. One of the recommendations was that President Julie Fujishima resign. In a press conference today, she did just that, with the company’s longest running talent, Noriyuki Higashiyama, succeeding her.
In addition, Vice President Suguru Shirahase has retired. All of these changes are effective as of September 5.
The company is accepting the report as fact, in effect also recognizing the abuse as fact.
Fujishima will now lead the process of considering what needs to be done to make amends with her uncle’s victims. She feels it is her sole responsibility as the direct blood relative of the person responsible for the abuse. She doesn’t want this burden of making amends to fall on Higashiyama and Johnnys’ Island President Yoshihiko Inohara .
At present, there will be no change to her owning 100% of the company, but she will discuss such matters ongoing together with the new board of directors, of which she remains a member.
At the press conference, Higashiyama stated that while he was aware of the rumors, he personally never witnessed nor experienced sexual harassment from Kitagawa, nor anyone else in the company. Kitagawa and his sister Mary were like a “father and mother,” he believed in them and refused to accept that the rumors could be true. However, he echoed Fujishima’s sentiment that the company must put personal feelings aside and accept what the third party investigation has concluded, and must start from that in order to move forward.
Inohara repeated the same. He was aware of the rumors, but never experienced anything himself, nor did anyone in his immediate group of Johnny’s to the best of his knowledge. However, as the head of Johnnys’ Jr., he acknowledges that projection of one’s own positive experience on a bigger situation could have lead those who might have experienced abuse to feel they were unable to discuss it. He vowed to take such issues very seriously as he leads the Jrs. to ensure that such an environment, especially one with such a vulnerable population, cannot happen again.
Concerning whether or not to change the company name, Higashiyama acknowledged that it is not easy to do. He said that if Johnny & Associates is to fully accept the results of the third party investigation, despite ongoing concerns, including but not limited to the scope of personal experience of Higashiyama, Inohara, and active talent, and how such would be contradictory, keeping the name “Johnny & Associates” could be seen as an invalidation of said acknolwedgement.
However, the company firmly believes that there is a fundamental difference between Johnny’s the company and Johnny the man, with the former having transcended the limitations of the latter long ago. Johnny’s is an identity built over generations of hard working artists, the new generations of whom draw from even now. While the company recognizes that the name of Johnny Kitagawa might have been tainted, it is the actions, pride of place, and inspiration of hundreds of young men completely unrelated to Kitagawa that contstitute what Johnny’s is and will continue to be. As such, the company does not plan to change the name at present nor are considering such for anytime in the near future, and wishes to direct all efforts to ensuring that the name of Johnny’s correctly and appropriately represents the values of every single talent who has ever been a part of the company.
Speaking of Kitagawa, Higashiyama said that despite his faults, he believed in entertainment and what that meant; to dedicate oneself to making others happy. This has been the guiding principle of all who call the company home, and what the company is committed to ensuring it means for future generations of artists.
Higashiyama will retire as an active talent at the end of the year, after fulfilling his current commitments.