May 29, 2024

A man in his 40s, who was a member of the association for victims of sexual abuse by the late Johnny Kitagawa, has died in Japan.

While the police have not commented, reputable local media on Tuesday reported that it is a possible case of death by suicide. The unnamed man’s body was found in the mountains near Osaka in mid-October. Local media reports that a suicide note was discovered with the corpse.

“The man, a resident of Osaka city, was found in the mountains in Minoo alongside what is believed to be a suicide note. He had claimed to have been sexually abused by Kitagawa,” said the Kyodo news agency.

Some 300 male artists were found to have been sexually abused over a period of several decades by Kitagawa, who ran what was once the most powerful talent agency in Japan and died in 2019.

For a long time, the Johnny and Associates agency to which Kitagawa gave his name denied the allegations of abuse and were not pursued by Japanese media. But this year, following a BBC documentary and two detailed external investigations, the agency admitted that the allegations were factual and it that it would offer redress.

The agency has since split its activities and changed its name to Smile Up. It has also set up a committee to financially compensate the individual victims of Kitagawa’s abuse.

The revelations have spurred negative local reactions against both the agency and some of the male victims who are now claiming compensation.

A representative of the association for victims of abuse has reported receiving tens of thousands of pieces of online abuse and reported the matter to police in October. The online abuse has typically accused the victims of fabricating their claims or seeking publicity. The precise details of the connection between the man’s death in Osaka and the recent online abuse are not yet clear.

“Among those who have filed complaints to the police in recent months include Iida Kyohei, a former member of idol group Kis-My-Ft2, and Nihongi Akimasa, one of two people who first proposed establishing the [victim support] group,” reported the Japan Times.

Separately, it emerged on Monday that Japan’s public broadcaster NHK is effectively boycotting the agency. NHK omitted all artists from the former Johnny and Associates from the lineup of singers and performers for Kohaku Uta Gassen, its annual New Year live music show. It is the first time in over 40 years that no Johnny’s talent has taken part. The Nikkei business newspaper reported that in recent years, Johnny’s fielded between five and seven boy bands in the annual battle of the sexes show.

If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

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