UN Official Slams Japan’s Response to Johnny & Associates Scandal

Tomoya Obokata, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and Professor of International Human Rights Law at University of York Law School, has come out against Japan’s response to the Johnny Kitagawa abuse scandal currently facing Johnny & Associates. In light of the company’s press conference last month, where they accepted that the company’s founder sexually abused talents for decades with impunity, the company’s partners in the worlds of media and advertising have turned their backs on them to varying degrees.

Obokata spoke on this change of heart, saying that from a business and human rights prespective, in the future it needs to be asked why the media turned a blind eye to the abuse until now. He also noted that the entertainment industry and sponsor companies share responsibility in this situation. Obokata added that it is truly irresponsible to blame Johnny & Associates solely for this situation. He wants these entities to be aware of this, and take action in the future.

Earlier, after the company’s press conference earlier this week, Obokata noted the comment of one reporter who said that if a victim feels that they have no choice but to obey, there is a high possibility that this isn’t merely sexual assault, but a case of “slavery”, the most serious category under international human rights law. Given this, he hopes that appropriate compensation is given to each victim.

This is not the first time that the UN has been involved in this scandal. A few months ago, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights investigated, saying that Johnny & Associates insufficiently handled allegations of of sexual abuse against Kitagawa, and that “doubts persist about the transparency and legitimacy” of the third-party investigation team set up by the company. This was said by the UN group a month before the third party investigation released its findings, which has taken the company to its current state.


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