TOKYO (AP) — Two men who say they were sexually abused as teenagers by a Japanese entertainment mogul were interviewed Monday by a special team set up by the talent agency to look into the allegations.
Junya Hiramoto and Shimon Ishimaru, both former members of a boys’ dance-and-song group called Johnny’s Junior, said they still want an apology and compensation from Johnny & Associates.
“They haven’t admitted anything, and they haven’t apologized,” Hiramoto told reporters after the interviews.
“We desire a peaceful resolution. There is no point in taking the bloody, contentious route of fighting it out with hatred.”
The two are among about a dozen men who have alleged sexual abuse by the agency’s founder, Johnny Kitagawa. They say they were abused at his Tokyo luxury mansion as well as at other places, such as his car and overseas hotels, while performing as teens.
Kitagawa, who died in 2019, was never charged.
Earlier this month, the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights urged the Japanese government to take action on the abuse at Johnny & Associates, noting the victims numbered at least several hundred, and accusing Japan’s mainstream media of what it called “a cover-up” by staying silent. A full report is to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council next June.
The separate team conducting the interviews Monday was set up by Johnny & Associates. It is to give its findings to the company later this month. Johnny & Associates has only commented in online statements, and how it will respond to the team’s findings remains to be seen.
In response to a request for comment by The Associated Press, Johnny & Associates said all matters are being dealt with by the investigative team. The company has promised a statement on the investigation later this month.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Kitagawa’s recent accusers decided to be named publicly in news accounts.
After a BBC documentary about Kitagawa aired this year, musician Kauan Okamoto spoke in April at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo, the first person in decades to make such allegations using his real name.
A new accuser, Yukihiro Oshima, a Johnny’s Junior member for two years starting in 1998, spoke out on Monday.
“For 23 years, I have tried my best to live life with a deep scar in my heart,” he said.
Oshima and other victims said they did not understand what was happening at first. They said they just want to put a stop to such crimes, not only in the entertainment industry but in Japanese society as a whole.
Japan lags other developed nations in protecting the rights of children as well as people targeted by sexual predators. Public opinion also tends to be unsympathetic, and men who have spoken up against Johnny & Associates have been ridiculed and harassed online.
“We hope the company will come to the table to talk together about compensation. We are prepared to persevere,” Ishimaru said.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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