On May 24, NHK mentioned for the first time the issue of sexual assault by the late Mr. Janney Kitagawa. At a regular press conference, Director-General of the Media Bureau Hiroo Yamana said, “We will carefully monitor the measures taken by the office to prevent recurrence, and we will also take action in selecting contestants for the Kohaku Uta Gassen (singing contest).
His comments were somewhat harsh. This is also because NHK is a public broadcaster that is made up of the subscription fees paid by the public. Ichiro Ishikawa, president of TV Tokyo, said, ‘We do not think there is anything wrong with the celebrities, so we will continue to allow them to appear on the program. (Director of a production company)
In March of this year, the BBC broadcast a documentary on the sexual assault of Janney Kitagawa. After that, former members of the company confessed their sexual assaults in the magazine “Shukan Bunshun” and at a press conference held by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, and as is well known, the issue became a social problem.
The reason why commercial broadcasters are reluctant to take action is because they are not beholden to their sponsors and advertising agencies. In a survey conducted by Shukan Bunshun of 116 sponsor companies that use Johnny’s celebrities, 20 companies responded that they had no one in charge.
As can be seen from the fact that the majority of the companies that responded to the survey also gave safe answers, Japanese celebrities, who have a large number of devoted fans, are a welcome source of money for companies. They probably really want to continue to use them as long as they are popular.
There are other reasons why TV stations want to ignore reports of sexual assault.
The TV stations want to keep the sex-abuse reports alive. “The Japanese celebrities contribute to the core viewership ratings (ratings among men and women aged 13-49) and the number of views on the distribution channels, which are the basis for programming. If the show is boring, there will be no buzz, but dedicated fans will definitely watch it.
They also spread the word on SNS. We are very grateful to them. Johnny’s Jr., who have yet to make their official debut, are in great demand because they earn core viewership ratings and views even though their fees are low.
Still, some sponsors have begun to steer clear of Johnny’s,” says an ad agency official.
For example, Ikeda Mokuhando’s Muhi series of itching and bug bite medicines. Masaki Aiba (40) and Shiyoh Hirano (26) had appeared in the commercials since 2010 and 2009, respectively, but after Hirano’s departure, Taishi Nakagawa (25) has been used.
On the other hand, some sponsors were expected to drop Hirano after he left Johnny’s, but they continued to use P&G’s “Fabreeze” and Bausch & Lomb Japan’s “Aqualox One-Day UV Thin”. If sponsors continue to shift away from Johnny’s, the commercial broadcasters will change their response.
Entertainment professionals are also under pressure to respond.
“If they perform with Johnny’s celebrities while the issue of sexual assault is becoming a social problem, they may be taken to be condoning sexual assault. If you are in a position to choose your work, you should refrain from performing with Johnny’s until the situation is settled.
As the president and executives themselves have admitted, Johnny’s is in a crisis of survival.
From the June 30, 2023 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Yusuke Kondo