News On Japan

Noriyuki Higashiyama likely to become new president of Johnny's

TOKYO, Sep 05 (News On Japan) - Performer Noriyuki Higashiyama is likely to take over from Julie K. Fujishima as president of scandal-plagued Johnny & Associates, Inc., ending a six-decade-long rule over the talent agency by the Kitagawa family, according to a report by Bunshun Online.

Sources associated with Johnny and Associates said that Fujishima, 57, will resign and Higashiyama, 56, be appointed as her replacement with the agency to make an official announcement at a news conference scheduled for September 7.

Johnny & Associates founder Johnny Kitagawa, who died in 2019, was found to have sexually abused boys and young men associated with the talent agency over decades.

A panel of outside experts investigated the allegations into Johnny Kitagawa's abuse and recommended that Julie Fujishima stand down.

"For Johnny Kitagawa to have continued this sexual abuse over such a long time shows there is a problem in the company run by the same family," the report announced by the investigative team said. "To prevent recurrence, Ms. (Julie) Fujishima cannot resolve the issue of governance."

Fujishima had apparently been planning to resign even before the investigative team made its announcement, but the content of the announcement removed any doubt from her mind, an entertainment industry source was quoted as saying.

Higashiyama, meanwhile, is the oldest performer registered on the talent agency's books. He was close friends with the late Mary Kitagawa, the sister of Johnny and mother of Julie who had also headed the agency. He is also rumored to have been in a relationship with Julie Fujishima at one stage, but married actress Yoshino Kimura in 2010.

Johnny & Associates had sought a new president from outside of the company, but appear to have ultimately decided to go with the senior performer on its books.

Johnny & Associates would not comment on the appointment of a new president, reiterating only that the company will hold a news conference on September 7.

Victims have called for compensation and further investigation into Kitagawa's behavior.

Media collusion enabled Kitagawa's behavior, which was widely assumed but rarely reported due to fear of being denied access to the talent agency's array of enormously popular stars.

A report on Kitagawa by the BBC earlier this year finally triggered action.


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