TOKYO — The lads who got here ahead to allege they have been sexually abused as youngsters by Japanese boy band producer Johnny Kitagawa now have a robust listener: the United Nations.
Damilola Olawuyi, chair of the U.N. Working Group on Enterprise and Human Rights, informed reporters Friday the variety of victims could complete a number of hundred, and he accused Japan’s mainstream media of standing silent in regards to the alleged abuse for many years.
Olawuyi raised critical questions in regards to the sincerity of the response from the expertise company Kitagawa based, Johnny & Associates. He urged different leisure trade gamers to hold out a “clear and legit investigation with a transparent timeline.”
Junya Hiramoto, one in all seven males who talked with Olawuyi’s crew, was moved to tears by the U.N. official’s remarks.
“I felt our message had been clearly relayed,” he mentioned. “They gave me such braveness.”
Pichamon Yeophantong, a fellow member of the U.N. group who appeared with Olawuyi on the Japan Nationwide Press Membership in Tokyo, urged the Japanese authorities to do extra.
“This case highlights the necessity for the federal government, as the first duty-bearer, to make sure clear investigations of perpetrators and that victims acquire efficient treatments, be they within the type of an apology or monetary compensation,” she mentioned.
Olawuyi and different consultants have been in Japan since July 24. They met with authorities officers, human rights advocates, commerce unions and firms, to study how companies could also be violating human rights and harming the setting.
A full report is ready to be introduced to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June, which is able to embody suggestions for change.
Foremost on the Working Group’s agenda was the lads who allege they have been sexually abused as kids by Kitagawa, who was a robust determine in Japan’s leisure trade earlier than he died in 2019. The pinnacle of Johnny & Associates apologized in Might.
Critics say what occurred at Johnny’s, as the corporate is understood right here, is shameful and indicative of how Japan, allegedly a democratic and financial powerhouse, lags in its safety of human rights.
The lads who’ve come ahead say Kitagawa abused them in his Tokyo luxurious mansion, in addition to different locations, corresponding to his automotive and abroad lodges, whereas performing as dancers and singers.
Kitagawa was by no means charged. He was revered through the years, though allegations about abuse popped up every now and then, solely to be finally shrugged off.
“What’s the worst case of sexual abuse within the historical past of humankind is seeing the sunshine of day,” Shimon Ishimaru, one of many seven accusers to go public, mentioned. “This drawback is actual. It actually occurred.”
Johnny’s, which continues to be thriving, arrange an investigative panel, however what it plans to attain has been unclear. Ishimaru and others mentioned they have been skeptical as a result of they’d not acquired the psychological well being care the corporate promised.
In response to a request for remark by The Related Press, Johnny & Associates mentioned all issues are being handled as a part of the investigation.
After a BBC documentary about Kitagawa aired this yr, musician Kauan Okamoto spoke in April on the Overseas Correspondents’ Membership in Tokyo, the primary individual in a long time to make such allegations below his actual title.
The Related Press doesn’t often establish individuals who say they have been sexually assaulted, however Kitagawa’s current accusers determined to be named publicly in information accounts.
Kitagawa filed a libel swimsuit towards weekly journal Shukan Bunshun after it revealed a collection of 1999 articles primarily based on nameless interviews with former performers who mentioned he compelled them to have intercourse.
Just a few years later, Japan’s Supreme Court docket upheld an appeals courtroom discovering in favor of Shukan Bunshun, saying the accusers’ testimonies have been dependable, and what they mentioned had actually occurred.
What Japan does now could find yourself being a litmus check for a rustic the place authorized revision that formally banned violence towards kids kicked in solely three years in the past and studies of kid abuse and neglect of kids are rampant. Japan raised the age of sexual consent from 13 to 16 solely this yr.
Akimasa Nihongi, one of many seven males who spoke with the U.N. officers, mentioned folks like him had suffered sufficient. He praised the U.N.’s actions as an enormous step ahead.
“A collective voice can ring loud and clear,” Nihongi mentioned.
“The U.N. Working Group sincerely listened to what we mentioned. And so they have now spoken.”
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama