TOKYO – Kazuya Nakamura says he was 15 when some of the highly effective males in Japanese leisure historical past pressured him to have intercourse whereas he was a part of a troupe of backup dancers managed by the legendary expertise agent.

At the very least a dozen different males have come ahead this 12 months to say they have been sexually assaulted as youngsters by boy band impresario Johnny Kitagawa, who died in 2019, starting with three who spoke anonymously to the BBC for a documentary broadcast in March.

The story has all the weather of a significant #MeToo reckoning, however in Japan, response has been muted.

Whereas opposition politicians arrange a committee in parliament to research, and the expertise company Kitagawa based promised to do the identical and supplied a quick apology, the information nonetheless hardly ever makes the entrance pages or lead tv information broadcasts.

Kitagawa shrugged off comparable allegations for many years. Nationwide media nearly fully ignored the story, and Kitagawa’s enterprise continued to thrive, even when a Tokyo appeals courtroom discovered a number of accusers to be credible in a libel case in 2003. When Kitagawa died, he was honored with an enormous funeral that crammed a stadium.

Nakamura hopes that this time, Japanese society will acknowledge what occurred to him.

“I just want to speak the truth,” Nakamura stated. “It happened.”

The Related Press doesn’t normally determine individuals who say they have been sexually assaulted, however Nakamura has chosen to determine himself within the media.

Kitagawa’s company, Johnny and Associates stated in response to the AP’s request for remark that every one issues had been positioned below investigation, and that it’s going to additionally assist with the “mental care” of those that come ahead.


In 1999, Japanese weekly journal Shukan Bunshun wrote in a sequence of articles based mostly on nameless interviews with former performers that Kitagawa pressured boys to have intercourse.

Kitagawa sued the journal for libel in 2000, starting a four-year authorized battle that ended with an appeals courtroom discovering that “it was demonstrated that the sexual harassment was factual,” and the testimony of the accusers, who appeared in courtroom anonymously, was dependable.

In Japan, the imported phrase “sekuhara,” brief for “sexual harassment,” is used to confer with all types of sexual misconduct.

Nonetheless, the journal was ordered to pay damages over assertions that Kitagawa gave minors cigarettes and alcohol.

Mainstream Japanese media nearly fully ignored the story. No prison fees have been filed, and Kitagawa and his company remained standard and highly effective.

Toshio Takeshita, who teaches journalism at Meiji College in Tokyo, blames cozy relationships between company media and leisure corporations for the lengthy silence. Entry to stars is important to media corporations, in order that they’re usually afraid to cross highly effective leisure figures.


Nakamura joined the Johnny’s Jr. backup dancers in 2001, after his mom helped him apply.

Johnny’s Jr. is step one on the ladder for a lot of aspiring Japanese male performers, a barely paid coaching camp for dancers and singers. Tons of of boys follow with the group yearly, and essentially the most profitable are picked to carry out alongside stars represented by Johnny’s. A choose few grow to be stars themselves.

Nakamura stated that on Oct. 19, 2002 — he remembers the precise date — he spent the night time at Kitagawa’s house after a efficiency on the Tokyo Dome stadium.

Kitagawa repeatedly invited dozens of boys to remain at his house, which had a swimming pool, and was stocked with snacks and video video games, in accordance with Nakamura and different accusers.

Nakamura stated he was sleeping in a mattress with two different Johnny’s Jr. members, mendacity within the center, when Kitagawa, then 70, pressured him to have intercourse. He simply closed his eyes and prayed it might be over. The opposite two boys saved quiet, sleeping or feigning sleep.

The next day, Nakamura stated, Kitagawa handed him one or two 10,000 yen ($125 on the time) payments. He refused, however Kitagawa squeezed the cash into his hand.

He carried out once more that night. “When you’re on stage at the Tokyo Dome, the view of the penlights is so beautiful,” he stated. “It was still so beautiful, but I couldn’t feel the joy.”

He stopped going to the dance classes.

For years, Nakamura felt ashamed and informed only some shut buddies and his mom.

He stated that he determined to interrupt his silence after one other accuser got here ahead earlier this 12 months. Kauan Okamoto alleged in a press convention on the International Correspondents’ Membership in Tokyo that Kitagawa pressured him to have intercourse repeatedly, a month after the BBC’s documentary aired. Okamoto was the primary particular person in many years to accuse Kitagawa with out anonymity.

Okamato stated he was assaulted starting in 2012, a decade after Nakamura. It made Nakamura remorse not coming ahead sooner.

He gave an interview to Shukan Bunshun in June, and was requested to talk to the committee in parliament later that month.


In Might, following a brand new sequence of public allegations and the beginning of a parliamentary investigation the brand new head of Johnny’s apologized to followers in a YouTube video. Firm President Julie Keiko Fujishima additionally employed former prosecutor Makoto Hayashi to move a three-person investigation.

Hayashi stated that the corporate isn’t contemplating financial compensation, however he stated the investigation will transfer ahead with the belief the sexual assault happened.

However Nakamura stated he couldn’t attain the investigators.

He crammed out a kind on the corporate’s web site to participate within the investigation, he stated, and was given a time for a cellphone name with an administrative assistant, which led to a different name, after which an e mail about scheduling yet one more, nonetheless not with Hayashi or his workforce. Nakamura gave up after two weeks of forwards and backwards.

Hayashi declined to be interviewed for this story, and stated he didn’t have a timeline for finishing the investigation.

Nakamura stated he was planning Japan’s equal of a category motion with a number of others. Particulars have been nonetheless undecided, and the case’s authorized prospects are much more unsure.

“This is not about winning or losing. It’s important we raise our voices,” he stated.


Kitagawa’s accusers, and others, are hoping that extra consideration will result in adjustments in Japanese society.

Japan has been criticized by the U.N. for not doing sufficient to guard kids, amid widespread experiences of corporal punishment, neglect and sexual abuse by adults, together with dad and mom and lecturers.

A authorized revision that formally banned violence towards kids kicked in solely three years in the past. Final month, Japan raised the age of sexual consent from 13 to 16.

Each Nakamura and Okamoto have testified in parliament, though the opposition, answerable for the investigation, is vastly outnumbered by the ruling coalition and has little energy by itself to alter laws.

Okamoto gathered greater than 40,000 signatures on a petition to demand harder legal guidelines to guard kids, which he submitted to parliament final month.

Yoichi Kitamura, a lawyer who defended Shukan Bunshun within the libel lawsuit and is giving authorized recommendation to Nakamura and different accusers, stated the case could possibly be a turning level in Japanese attitudes.

However he’s been disenchanted earlier than.

Through the trial, Kitamura stated, “I felt: We got him.”

Now, many years later, he’s once more serving to Nakamura and others search decision.

Nakamura stated that Kitagawa’s accusers doubt {that a} second like it will come once more.

“We all feel that this is our last chance,” he stated.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter

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