Singer and musician Kauan Okamoto has spoken up, alleging that he was sexually abused by Johnny & Associates founder Johnny Kitagawa.
For those who don’t know, Johnny & Associates is a Japanese talent agency for male idols. The agency was founded back in 1962 by John Hiromu Kitagawa, an American-born Japanese citizen.
Kitagawa is credited with creating the first ever male idol group in Japan after he recruited local boys to put on a singing and dancing act in the 1960s.
Since then, Johnny & Associates has gone all out in raising their own talent. Young and aspiring male idols (Johnnies, as the company calls them) are asked to audition and then put into not only a dorm but a school run directly by the company.
Kitagawa has been on the receiving end of similar allegations since the late 80s, but due to the company’s influence in the entertainment industry, it appeared difficult for alleged victims to speak out.
That is until the BBC ran a documentary last month regarding Kitagawa’s sordid past, and Okamoto saw an opportunity to let the documentary amplify his voice.
Okamoto spoke to Shunkan Bunshun and thanks to @farrahakase from The Japan Times we have some of the highlights of the interview in English.
Okamoto alleges that in 2012 when he was about to graduate from Junior High School, Kitagawa began touching him inappropriately. One night, Kitagawa allegedly began fondling and touching Okamoto as he pretended to sleep.
Soon afterward, Kitagawa allegedly gave Okamoto a ¥10,000 bill (approximately $130 USD based on 2012’s exchange rate). Okamoto also claims other talents were similarly assaulted by Kitagawa.
Although rumors have floated around for decades, Okamoto’s willingness to stake his name and face on these allegations have caused the public to begin taking them more seriously.
However, it’s too late for any consequences to reach Kitagawa. Johnny Kitagawa passed away back in 2019, though Johnny & Associates remains one of the largest male idol talent agencies in Japan.
Although Okamoto says he was abused by Kitagawa nearly 20 times over his time with the company, he says he remains grateful to Johnny & Associates for the “opportunities” the company gave him.
This is Niche Culture. In this column, we regularly cover anime, geek culture, and things related to video games.