SMILE-UP’s Higashiyama Noriyuki says there were 2 abusers other than Johnny Kitagawa + follow-up documentary coming

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BBC reporter Mobeen Azhar is doing a follow-up to his documentary on the Johnny Kitagawa sexual abuse case from last year, Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop.” In an article about the sequel, titled The Shadow of a Predator, current SMILE-UP head Higashiyama Noriyuki reveals to Azhar that there were two more predators who were involved that are still out there today.

Higashiyama told the BBC that an internal investigation by the former company in August 2023 had concluded that two people at Johnny & Associates were believed to have sexually abused talent.
He revealed that, to date, he has not contacted the authorities.
“From a legal standpoint, I don’t think we have the authority to do that,” Higashiyama says. “But if those involved file a criminal complaint, I imagine we would co-operate as much as possible.”
He says that he does not know if the survivors of abuse by the two perpetrators want to pursue criminal proceedings.
“I don’t even know who they are,” he says.

The struggles of Johnny Kitagawa’s victims trying to get compensated was also brought up, which was mentioned earlier this year.

A lawyer representing survivors of Kitagawa’s abuse described Smile-Up’s process as “a black-box situation”.
Smile-Up has itself cast doubt on some of the allegations. Days after being set up, the agency released a statement saying: “We have received information that there are cases in which people, who are most likely not victims, are telling false stories using the testimony of real victims.”

They also talk about victims facing harassment from netizens, including the story of one in particular.

Some of the survivors who shared their experiences have faced condemnation and harassment from people online.
A woman who did not want to be identified says her husband faced death threats and harassment when he shared his story of being abused by Kitagawa.
“He wanted to reveal everything,” she says. “He didn’t want future children to be harmed in the same way.”
After he spoke out, his personal details were exposed online.
Eventually the woman received a text message from her husband telling her that he’d gone to the mountains. It was there that he ended his life.
“When I found him, it was too late,” she says.

Not sure if something is lost in translation or something, but citing freedom of speech as the immediate reaction to that is wild.

Smile-Up CEO Noriyuki Higashiyama says that he is aware of this case.
“People have freedom of speech,” he says. “I’m not encouraging slander. If it’s possible, I would really like to eliminate online abuse.”

Additionally, it’s revealed that Higashiyama himself is apparently meeting with victims.

Higashiyama says he has spoken personally to almost 200 people who have come forward with claims of abuse.
“I hope it will help to mend their hearts, even just a little. I consider that to be my role. My main focus is to meet with survivors.”
He admits that he has no formal training or experience in counselling or helping survivors of sexual abuse.
Smile-Up is organising and funding counselling for those who have come forward. “We are thinking of doing that indefinitely,” Higashiyama says.

If that’s what the victims want, then I suppose that’s good, but from a corporate perspective this is realistically all just about damage control to get people to move foward, and him meeting with them personally likely is mainly just something to say that looks good and remorseful.

As far as the follow-up documentary, that will be out on March 30. Given the content of the article, I’m guessing it will largely revolve around the steps that have already been taken by SMILE-UP. To some extent that has been covered here, but since he’s also talking directly to executives and victims, it should hopefully be able to generate new insight into everything that’s happened since. Hopefully it’s also able to shed light on the aforementioned other sexual predators within the company as well.

——

Speaking of updates on the SMILE-UP compensation stuff, there are now 968 people who have come forward and less than a third of them have been compensated so far.

We’ll see where that number ends up at the conclusion of all this. While I realize there will be those who try to take advantage of the scandal and the system, I’m skeptical that around a third is anywhere near an accurate reflection of those that deserve compensation.