Takeshi Kitano, arguably Japan’s most recognizable entertainer, has weighed in on the sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the country’s multibillion-dollar media landscape.
Given that March, a long-delayed reckoning has been brewing in the country’s enjoyment industry. For a long time, rumors of rampant sexual abuse experienced swirled all-around Johnny Kitagawa, the founder of Johnny & Associates (locally known as just “Johnny’s”), Japan’s dominant expertise company for young male stars. But it wasn’t right up until the BBC aired an in-depth documentary analyzing the allegations — Predator: The Magic formula Scandal of J-pop — that Japanese media have begun to cautiously address the scandal. In new months, quite a few other male idols have appear forward with allegations that they ended up sexually assaulted by Kitagawa when they had been boys, and the company’s existing management has issued an unprecedented apology.
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The Hollywood Reporter requested Kitano for his views on the increasing outcry for the duration of an job interview Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, in which the director, actor and comedian is premiering his most up-to-date aspect, Kubi, a period of time samurai movie.
“The time of remaining capable to talk up about LGBTQ stuff and sexual harassment has eventually arrive to Japan,” Kitano claimed. “But these tales have often been all over [in our industry],” he extra. The 76-12 months-old performer, also recognized by his stage name “Beat Takeshi,” is a ubiquitous determine in Japan’s entertainment scene — an iconic stand-up comic, variety show star, mainstay of Japanese gangster flicks, and a Venice Golden Lion-winning director (Hana-bi, 1997), among the various other innovative pursuits (he also paints and has authored very best-offering guides).
Kitagawa, who died of a stroke in 2019, was credited with pioneering the J-pop boy band product of amusement that swept Asia in the 1980s and ’90s, forward of the K-pop wave that would later on conquer the planet. A ruthless businessman, he was recognized for his masterful manipulation of Tokyo’s major media and leisure conglomerates, leveraging his talent’s star electric power to command leading fees and full obedience in excess of how he and his enterprise ended up protected.
The earliest acknowledged allegations towards Kitagawa day back again to 1965, when the moms and dads of four boys attempted to sue him for earning sexual improvements towards their children. In 1988, Koji Kita, a member of a person of Johnny’s earliest strike boy bands, printed a memoir alleging that he and other aspiring singers had been abused by Kitagawa. And in 1999, top local tabloid journal Shukan Bunshun posted an investigative report containing extra accounts of boy or girl sexual intercourse abuse from a number of nameless boys signed with Johnny’s. The organization then sued the publication for libel. Tokyo’s Higher Court concluded that important sections of Bunshun’s report on Kitagawa’s sexual abuse had been true, but said other statements about Kitagawa allowing the boys to consume and smoke when underage were in doubt. The magazine’s publisher was requested to pay Johnny & Associates 1.2 million yen in payment.
Through it all, Japan’s mainstream media preserved in close proximity to-whole silence — even though the allegations concerned the business liable for making some of the country’s extremely most important stars, which include wildly popular idol groups like SMAP, Shonentai, Arashi and Travis Japan. With famously cutthroat market acumen, Kitagawa made his stars so indispensable to Japan’s audio, film, Tv set and promoting industries that local media conglomerates dared not cross him by publishing unfavorable commentary.
Kitano, whose personal profession as a person of his country’s most well known public entertainers stretches again to the early 1970s, blasted some of the structural forces that have permitted Japan’s talent companies to wield this sort of outsized electricity — long a source of grievance in the country’s movie and Tv set business enterprise.
“Since the article-war time period, Japan has experienced seriously massive talent companies. And instead than having [fair] contracts, these businesses have taken care of expertise form of like slaves — and which is ongoing until right now,” Kitano said. “Talent’s earnings are exploited. A short while ago, these aged institutional tactics and other incidents from the previous have come to the area.”
Numerous weeks right after the airing of the BBC’s documentary in March, Kauan Okamoto, a previous member of Johnny’s trainee program for aspiring pop idols, Johnny’s Jr., gave an interview with Shukan Bunshun and a press meeting at the Overseas Correspondent’s Club of Japan detailing even further allegations towards the deceased media magnate.
Okamoto claimed he signed with the agency when he was 15 yrs aged in 2012, and that he was subsequently abused by Kitagawa about 15 to 20 moments around the following 4 several years. He also mentioned he noticed Kitagawa sexually assault 3 of his fellow teenage trainees.
According to area push stories, when asked why the boys place up with the abuse, Okamoto explained, “In the 1st place, the boys who could make their debuts at Johnny’s have been Mr. Johnny’s favorites. Everybody comprehended that a word from Mr. Johnny dictates all the things.” He also said that he experienced heard from other Johnny’s Jr. boys, “If you never go to [Kitagawa’s] mansion, you won’t come to be a star.”
As outcry around the claims commenced to spread, a Johnny’s admirer group in mid-May perhaps submitted a petition with above 16,000 signatures, demanding that the agency start an inner investigation. Johnny’s present-day president and Kitagawa’s niece, Julie Keiko Fujishima, then took the unparalleled stage of directly addressing the sexual abuse allegations on behalf of the organization for the very first time.
“I would like to categorical my apology from the base of my coronary heart for the social problems induced by the sexual assault conditions of Kitagawa, our founder,” Fujishima stated in a video clip assertion printed on the agency’s web page. She stated she took the allegations “very seriously,” but neither verified nor denied them. She said that at the time of Bunshun‘s 1999 report, she was just a director and the corporation was managed solely by her uncle, Johnny Kitagawa, and her own mother, Mary Kitagawa.
“Knowledge of these [accusations] was constrained to the two of them,” she stated.
“I don’t think individuals issues did not materialize at all,” she included, “However, it’s not uncomplicated for me to verify if allegations are legitimate or not without the need of confirming with Johnny Kitagawa.”
Two supplemental Kitagawa accusers have because occur to light. Yasushi Hashida, a 37-calendar year-outdated dancer and actor, told a hearing of Japan’s Food plan, the national legislature, that he was sexually assaulted by Kitagawa two times when he joined the company at age 13. And Ryu Takahashi, another former Johnny’s teen idol, reported he was just one of the blessed types to properly rebuff Kitagawa’s attempted sexual developments. (He explained in element an episode of being invited to Kitagawa’s luxury home and staying presented a massage by the aged CEO that swiftly turned sexual, only ending soon after the singer and dancer, then just 16, shouted, “No!”).
Takahashi explained the recent Johnny’s president’s apology as an “act of desperation” and turned down the company’s claim that it was unaware of the multi-10 years rumors and allegations of sexual abuse by the founder.
“There ended up rumors, and a courtroom also handed down a ruling in a lawsuit versus Shukan Bunshun,” Takahashi, now 31, instructed Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper. “It does not make feeling if anyone who was a director and afterwards succeeded [Kitagawa] as president suggests she did not know.”
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