The mountain has finally moved.
After a press conference held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) in April of this year, Cowan Okamoto, 27, who has accused the late Mr. Janney Kitagawa of sexual assault under his own name, realized the following. Major media outlets such as NHK and Asahi Shimbun, which had ignored the issue until then, all reported at once that “Ms. Cowan, who had been sexually abused, held a press conference. Many people became aware of the dark side of the Johnny’s’s office.
This is the fourth (and final) installment of an interview in which Mr. Cowan reflects on his spectacular life. Following on from Part 3: “Living in adversity on 30,000 yen a month” due to panic disorder, we would like to introduce the circumstances that led to the accusations under his own name. The following is Cowan’s recollection.
I had been confronting myself for a long time after the disappearance of my friends and my mother’s illness caused me to suffer from panic disorder. In my solitude, I thought to myself, “I’ve been suffering from Janie’s sexual assaults. I had closed my eyes to the dark side of Janie’s sexual assaults and had lived my life with my past hidden away. I don’t want to lie to myself anymore. I decided to tell the truth about my experiences.
He chose the “Garcy Channel,” which had more than one million subscribers at the time, as the place to tell the truth. Cowan sent a direct message to Mr. Yoshikazu Azumaya, a.k.a. Garcy.’ In November of 2010, he appeared on a live broadcast of the Garcy Channel.
‘At first we were talking about how I got into Johnny’s and why I quit. After a while, Mr. Gershey went into the sexual assault as well. In the past I would have misled him. But I was determined not to lie, so I admitted, ‘It’s true.
Reactions were mixed. While the Internet was filled with critical comments such as “publicity stunt” and “you’re destroying Johnny’s,” there were also many messages of encouragement, such as “courageous accusation” and “keep up the good work.
The media also got involved. The BBC, a British public broadcaster, contacted Cowan after seeing the video, saying, “Let’s continue the story. We’d love to continue the story.” Soon after, Bunshun Weekly interviewed Cowan. The response to the article was so great that the Bunshun reporter suggested that a press conference be held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, as mentioned above.
“Immediately after the press conference, I was contacted by Keiko Fujishima Julie, the former president of Johnny’s, and we met face-to-face for about two hours. It was my first time to meet Ms. Julie, and I was anxious about what kind of person she would be. In reality, Ms. Julie is a gracious woman, like a member of the royal family. Ms. Julie said, ‘I really didn’t know. I am sorry,’ she apologized.
I understand that she wants to protect the idols in her office without making a big fuss. However, I thought it was wrong to hide the truth from her, so I told her, “Julie-san, you have to show your face and explain to her. I thought it would be better if Julie-san showed his face and explained the situation to the public. As you know, Julie released an apology video. It is historic that he even held a press conference and apologized for his office’s past. I feel it’s a big step forward.”
Cowan has since referred to sexual assault in various media. He also responded to a hearing at the National Assembly. Although the uproar is still ongoing, Cowan is slowly resuming her career as an artist.
The scars on my heart will never go away, but I don’t want people to feel sorry for me because I am a victim. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, but to accept my work in a positive way. I want to write songs that give people courage and move them, not deny them.
My roots are in Brazil. I want to be a singer that moves not only Japan but also the whole world like Justin Bieber, whom I admire. What gives me a rebuke are the words of Michael Jordan, a former professional basketball player whom I respect and admire, engraved on my right shoulder. [Fate, get out of the way. I’m coming through.”
Cowan plans to release a new song called “My soul” in November. The lyrics include this passage.
I won’t run away, I won’t lose I’m not going to lose, I’m not going to lose, I’m not going to lose now, I’m going to carry this pain with me.
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PHOTO： Shinya Nishizaki