The Johnny’s s office held a press conference at 2:00 p.m. on September 7 at a hotel in Tokyo in response to the issue of sexual assault by the late Mr. Johnny Kitagawa. Attending the press conference were former president Keiko Fujishima Julie (57), new president Noriyuki Higashiyama (56), Johnny’s Island president Yoshihiko Inohara (47), and the office’s legal counsel Yutaka Kimeda (55). This was the first public appearance by Mr. Julie on a series of issues.
On August 29, a “Special Team to Prevent Recurrence” of outside experts issued an investigation report on the issue. The report acknowledged the fact that Mr. Janney Kitagawa had engaged in sexual assault, and that a dismantling and restructuring of the company was necessary.
At the beginning of the press conference, bowing deeply, Higashiyama began, “First of all, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Kitagawa’s sexual assault and apologize here. He said that he would retire as a TV personality at the end of this year and that he was “prepared to devote my life to the issue of sexual assault. With Higashiyama’s appointment as president, the previous president, Julie, resigned. Although he will remain with the company as a director, he will not be involved in the company’s operations and will concentrate on compensating victims.
During the press conference, the focus of attention was on Higashiyama’s and Inohara’s perception of sexual assault. It is rumored that Mr. Janie Kitagawa has been sexually harassing former talents since the establishment of his office, and in 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that he had sexually harassed a former talent. In the midst of this, a reporter asked Mr. Higashiyama, who said he had no knowledge of the sexual harassment, if it was unnatural.
I had heard about it as a rumor, but I could not act on my own. (There was a book that exposed Mr. Kitagawa’s sexual assault, but I believed in him, so I did not read the book. I thought of Mr. Kitagawa as my father, so I didn’t want it to happen.
While Higashiyama answered in a matter-of-fact manner, choosing his words carefully, Inohara opened his mouth as if he were talking to the press.
I joined Johnny’s when I was in the sixth grade of elementary school, and at that point, everyone was talking about it. But , as an excuse, there was an air of mystery about it, an air that we were not allowed to touch.
Nine years after Higashiyama joined the group, the rumors of sexual assault were already well known among Johnny’s Jr.
During the press conference, Higashiyama’s expression turned grim when he was asked about his own allegations of sexual assault.’ According to a book about the former Johnny’s Jr. released in 2005, Higashiyama was acting like a “Johnny’s watchdog” and referred to the sexual abuse he was committing against the Jr.
At first, Mr. Higashiyama firmly denied that he had sexually abused the Jr. However, when Mr. Julie hinted that “the way of teaching at that time may have been anachronistic and power-harassing from a modern perspective,” he replied, ” There are many things I really do not remember, and it is possible that I may have done it, or I may not have done it. I really don’t remember many things, and I may or may not have done some of them, that’s my true feeling.
Although Higashiyama admitted that Johnny’s sisters’ sexual assault was true, his answer to the allegation of his own sexual assault changed two or three times. Some of the reporters gathered at the press conference asked, “Are you still lying?
“Are you still lying to me? ……
How can you say it is not true when you say you have never read the book?”
Some of them sighed and said, “How can you say it is not true when you say you have not read the book?
When asked again about his perception of sexual assault, “During your tenure at the office, did you ever consult with the other celebrities around you about sexual assault? The reporters at the press conference expressed their discomfort with this answer, saying that it was “unconvincing.
During the more than four-hour press conference, Higashiyama said, “I think what Mr. Kitagawa is doing is the work of a devil. Now, there is no more affection at all,” he said. Although a name change would have a great effect in renewing their image, they are not considering changing the name of the company at this time. Is it a sign of Mr. Julie and Mr. Higashiyama’s lack of confidence that they cannot abandon the power of the “Johnny’s” brand despite their lack of affection for it?
Their skills as new presidents will be questioned.
PHOTO： Kazuhiko Nakamura