TOKYO – The boys 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, informed reporters Friday the variety of victims might complete a number of hundred, and he accused Japan’s mainstream media of standing silent concerning the alleged abuse for many years.
Olawuyi raised severe questions concerning the sincerity of the response from the expertise company Kitagawa based, Johnny & Associates. He urged different leisure trade gamers to hold out a “transparent and legitimate investigation with a clear timeline.”
Junya Hiramoto, one in all 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 mentioned. “They gave me such courage.”
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 need for the government, as the primary duty-bearer, to ensure transparent investigations of perpetrators and that victims obtain effective remedies, be they in the form of an apology or financial 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 surroundings.
A full report is ready to be introduced to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June, which can embrace suggestions for change.
Foremost on the Working Group’s agenda was the boys 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 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 boys who’ve come ahead say Kitagawa abused them in his Tokyo luxurious mansion, in addition to different locations, equivalent to his automotive and abroad resorts, 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 is the worst case of sexual abuse in the history of humankind is seeing the light of day,” Shimon Ishimaru, one of many seven accusers to go public, mentioned. “This problem is real. It really happened.”
Johnny’s, which remains to be thriving, arrange an investigative panel, however what it plans to realize has been unclear. Ishimaru and others mentioned 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 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 particular person in a long time to make such allegations below his actual identify.
The Related Press doesn’t normally determine individuals who say they had been sexually assaulted, however Kitagawa’s latest accusers determined to be named publicly in information accounts.
Kitagawa filed a libel go well with towards weekly journal Shukan Bunshun after it printed a sequence of 1999 articles primarily based on nameless interviews with former performers who mentioned he pressured them to have intercourse.
A couple of years later, Japan’s Supreme Courtroom upheld an appeals court docket discovering in favor of Shukan Bunshun, saying the accusers’ testimonies had been dependable, and what they mentioned had actually occurred.
What Japan does now might find yourself being a litmus take a look at for a rustic the place authorized revision that formally banned violence towards kids kicked in solely three years in the past and stories 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 individuals 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 said. And they have now spoken.”
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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