TOKYO — The lads who got here ahead to allege they had 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, advised 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 every of seven males who talked with Olawuyi’s staff, was moved to tears by the U.N. official’s remarks.
“I felt our message had been clearly relayed,” he stated. “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 get hold of efficient treatments, be they within the type of an apology or monetary compensation,” she stated.
Olawuyi and different consultants have been in Japan since July 24. They met with authorities officers, human rights advocates, commerce unions and corporations, to find out about 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 had 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 Could.
Critics say what occurred at Johnny’s, as the corporate is thought 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, akin to his automotive and abroad inns, whereas performing as dancers and singers.
Kitagawa was by no means charged. He was revered over time, though allegations about abuse popped up at times, solely to be ultimately 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, stated. “This downside 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 stated they had been skeptical as a result of that they had not acquired the psychological well being care the corporate promised.
In response to a request for remark by The Related Press, Johnny & Associates stated all issues are being handled as a part of the investigation.
After a BBC documentary about Kitagawa aired this 12 months, musician Kauan Okamoto spoke in April on the International Correspondents’ Membership in Tokyo, the primary individual in a long time to make such allegations beneath his actual title.
The Related Press doesn’t normally establish individuals who say they had 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 printed a collection of 1999 articles based mostly on nameless interviews with former performers who stated he compelled them to have intercourse.
A number of years later, Japan’s Supreme Courtroom upheld an appeals courtroom discovering in favor of Shukan Bunshun, saying the accusers’ testimonies had been dependable, and what they stated 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 12 months.
Akimasa Nihongi, one of many seven males who spoke with the U.N. officers, stated 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 stated.
“The U.N. Working Group sincerely listened to what we stated. They usually have now spoken.”
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama