Alleged sex victim of Japan pop mogul Johnny Kitagawa dies after online abuse: Reports
TOKYO – A man who claimed he was sexually abused by the founder of Japan’s top boy band agency has died after receiving a torrent of online harassment.
The man in his 40s, who belonged to a group of alleged victims, was found dead in an apparent suicide in October in western Osaka prefecture, public broadcaster NHK said, citing police sources. The man was not named.
The Yomiuri daily reported that the man received disparaging comments on social media, such as “Your lie will be exposed” and “You want money”, after he went public with accusations of sexual abuse by Johnny Kitagawa, founder of boy band empire Johnny & Associates.
The agency admitted in September that Kitagawa, who died aged 87 in 2019, sexually assaulted teenage boys and young men seeking stardom over decades.
Prior to the man’s death, three members of the group of alleged victims filed reports to the police about being harassed online after they announced in public about the alleged sexual abuse.
The deceased man “asked the boy band agency to take action against abuse, but they only called on people to stop it without taking concrete measures”, his family said in a statement, according to NHK and other local media.
“His emotional distress became even more severe as it was compounded by the recurrence of the sexual trauma he had originally suffered,” the family said, adding that he had reported the sexual abuse to the agency in May, but did not hear back from a company representative other than receiving a promise to reply.
The family was “still in disbelief and stunned by his sudden departure”, they added.
Johnny & Associates announced in October it would be renamed “Smile-Up” and dedicated solely to redressing survivors of Kitagawa’s abuse, before being shuttered and transferring its talent to a new management company.
Allegations that Kitagawa abused young men who wanted to be stars surfaced in Japanese media in 1999.
But it was not until 2023 that they ignited full-on soul-searching, following a BBC documentary and denunciations by victims. - AFP