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Former J-pop teen idol Kauan Okamoto alleges sex abuse by Japanese music mogul Johnny Kitagawa

Kauan Okamoto, a musician also a former member of Japanese pop group Johnny's Junior, attends a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
Kauan Okamoto, a musician also a former member of Japanese pop group Johnny's Junior, attends a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan Copyright Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo
Copyright Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo
By Theo FarrantAP
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Former member of Johnny's Jr. backup boys' group, Kauan Okamoto, has accused late entertainment mogul Johnny Kitagawa of sexually assaulting him multiple times between 2012 and 2016, while staying at Kitagawa's luxury house.

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Allegations of sexual abuse against Johnny Kitagawa, one of the most powerful figures in the Japanese entertainment world, have resurfaced with the testimony of Kauan Okamoto, a former member of Johnny's Jr. backup boys' group. 

Okamoto, a Japanese-Brazilian singer-songwriter, alleged that Kitagawa, who died in 2019, sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions over a four-year period, starting in 2012, while he was staying at Kitagawa's luxury house.

"Johnny started massaging my feet, and his hands gradually moved up to touch my genitals through my underwear. He then took off my underwear and directly touched my genitals. Johnny then proceeded to perform oral sex on me. The whole time, I pretended I was asleep," explained Okamoto at a press conference hosted by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. 

"The next day, I went outside with him, and he gave me 10,000 yen in the elevator," he added. 

Okamoto, who is now 26-years-old, estimated that dozens of young men were selected as Kitagawa's "favourites" to stay at his home, where the abuse allegedly occurred. 

He added that being liked by Kitagawa was crucial for anyone hoping to succeed in the Japanese entertainment industry, and many young performers wanted to be invited to his penthouse in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo.

Resurfaced allegations

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP
A woman walks past a roadside television screen reporting the death of Johnny Kitagawa, founder of Japanese talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc., in Tokyo on July 10, 2019.KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP

The scandal first emerged in 1999 when claims of Kitagawa's abuse was reported by Shukan Bunshun, a Japanese news magazine. 

Kitagawa denied these claims and filed a lawsuit against the magazine, which he was awarded ¥8.8 million for in damages. 

However, the magazine appealed the decision, resulting in a partial reversal of the judgment. 

The Tokyo High Court concluded that Shukan Bunshun's reports of drinking and smoking were defamatory but that the allegations of sexual exploitation of adolescent boys by Johnny Kitagawa were true. 

However, the reaction from mainstream Japanese society has been muted, and Kitagawa was never charged with any crime. He died on 9 July 2019, aged 87, after suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage stroke. 

Johnny & Associates, the talent agency managing male idol actors and singers, released a statement in response to the recent news conference, saying that the company would continue to ensure compliance and strengthen its system of governance. 

However, the statement did not directly address the allegations.

Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo
Kauan Okamoto, a musician also a former member of Japanese pop group Johnny's Junior, speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of JapanEugene Hoshiko/AP Photo

Okamoto has not considered legal action and said that he hoped his story would be acknowledged and inspire other victims to come forward. 

“I hope everyone will come forward because it is an outrageous number of victims,” he told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Tokyo.

The case has highlighted the need for greater accountability and transparency in the Japanese entertainment industry, which has long been criticised for its culture of secrecy and exploitation of young performers. 

Check out the video above to hear what Kauan Okamoto had to say at the recent press conference.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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