UN backs ‘hundreds’ of alleged sexual assault victims of late Japanese boy band producer


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A United Nations working group has voiced its support for what it says are “several hundred” sexual assault victims of late Japanese boy band producer Johnny Kitagawa, urging the Japanese government to deliver them justice.

Background: Kitagawa, a U.S.-born Japanese talent manager, was credited for launching the careers of some of Japan’s biggest male acts, including SMAP, KAT-TUN and Arashi.

Allegations of his sexually abusive behavior toward his talents have been around for decades, but they were largely ignored by Japanese mainstream media. Earlier this year, those claims saw a revival in global headlines after a BBC documentary presented them in detail. One alleged victim who came forward later is former J-pop idol Kauan Okamoto, who claimed that Kitagawa had sexually abused him at least 15 times over a course of four years beginning in 2012 at age 15.

What the U.N. is saying: The U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights first announced its plans to investigate the sexual abuse claims against Kitagawa last month. They arrived in Japan on July 24 and have since met government officials, companies, trade unions and human rights advocates.

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On Friday, the group’s chair, Damilola Olawuyi, told reporters that Kitagawa’s alleged victims may total several hundred, as per the Associated Press. Meanwhile, group member Pichamon Yeophantong urged the Japanese government to do more, calling for “transparent investigations of perpetrators” and “effective remedies” in the form of an apology or financial compensation for the victims.

What’s next: The working group is expected to present their full report to the U.N. Human Rights Council next June. While the head of Johnny & Associates — Kitagawa’s founded agency — has apologized in May, it remains to be seen whether the late producer’s alleged victims will find justice.

 

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