Japan: ex-member of a boy band accuses the pope of J-pop of sexual assault

Japan: ex-boy band member accuses pope of J-pop of sexual assault


A former member of a Japanese boy band, Kauan Okamoto, claimed on Wednesday that he was sexually assaulted as a teenager by Japanese pop boy group guru Johnny Kitagawa (J -pop), who died in 2019 at age 87. 

Johnny & Associates founded by Mr. Kitagawa, who has reigned over the Japanese entertainment industry for decades and launched famous “idol” groups such as Smap, Arashi or Tokio, did not respond to several requests from AFP on this case.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, which organized the press conference on Wednesday where the Japanese-Brazilian singer made these accusations, also indicated that its requests to the agency had remained without answer.

Mr Okamoto, now 26, said on Wednesday he was assaulted by Mr Kitagawa “15 to 20” times from 2012, when he was just 15, until he left the agency in 2016.

He is one of the first people to publicly accuse Mr. Kitagawa, of whom the Japanese press had already mentioned alleged acts of harassment and sexual assault for a long time, but who does not was ever convicted.

The controversy resurfaced after the recent airing of a documentary by British public broadcaster BBC.

“I hope more victims will come forward, all of them, because there are so many of them,” Mr. Okamoto said.

“I would also like the management of the agency, and Johnny to -even if he was present today, recognize what happened and make sure that such things do not happen again”, he added.

According to the singer, it was common for Mr. Kitagawa's young recruits to spend the night in his apartment equipped with a jacuzzi, a bar and a karaoke machine.

Kauan Okamoto said the first time he was assaulted by Mr. Kitagawa, he lay down next to him and touched his genitals before performing oral sex on him.

According to him, Mr. Kitagawa gave him 10,000 yen (68 euros at the current rate) the next day, without explanation.

Mr. Okamoto believes that most of the “100 to 200” young talents he met at the agency suffered similar assaults.

“Thanks to Johnny, my life has changed,” he said. “But I also believe that what Johnny did, to perform sexual acts on me when I was 15, and what he did to others, is a bad thing.”

The Local media had previously raised accusations of child abuse and sexual exploitation against Mr. Kitagawa. In 1999, the weekly “Shukan Bunshun” published a series of articles presenting the accusations of several boys against him.

Mr. Kitagawa was awarded damages for defamation as a result of these publications, but the decision was partially overturned on appeal, with the court finding that the magazine had sufficient reason to publish these charges, according to the Kyodo news agency. /p>

Mr. Okamoto said he does not wish to seek a posthumous inquest at this time.

The assaulted boys were 'generally aware' that rejecting Johnny Kitagawa's advances would hurt their careers , he said.

Some “even said that you had to (go) to his house to succeed,” he added.