THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
September 18, 2023 at 18:49 JST
The building that houses Johnny & Associates Inc. in Tokyo’s Minato Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
A 35-year-old actress faced unwanted sexual advances from presidents of at least two of her entertainment agencies, showing that the Johnny & Associates Inc. sexual abuse scandal is not an isolated case.
In the 2010s, her agency’s president approached her, saying, “Since I first met you, I have thought you are a woman after my own heart.”
The woman had believed that the president, who was enthusiastic about promoting her, was a person she could rely on.
However, he became violent and hit her in the eye when she rejected his advances.
After she moved to another agency, she was approached by its president and other people.
Predators demanded sexual intimacy in exchange for advancing her career, taking advantage of the overwhelming gap in power between them.
She even thought that a physical relationship with a manager might be a given in the entertainment industry and wondered if she was just being naive.
Someone told her that she could not survive in the trade unless she “likes” sex.
Today, however, she is confident that such managers are simply abusing their positions of influence.
Actress Megumi Morisaki said the plague of sexual abuse in the industry is not limited to the Johnny & Associates entertainment agency, which has admitted that its late founder, Johnny Kitagawa, had sexually abused boys under his management over decades.
Morisaki is the president of the Arts Workers Japan Association, which supports activities of actors, musicians and others in the arts and entertainment world.
In a survey the association conducted between February and May covering 245 actors, celebrities and others, 61.2 percent said they experienced harassment while on the job, and 21.5 percent said they had witnessed or heard about harassment against others.
In a separate survey conducted last year, 58.8 percent of respondents who experienced harassment said they were targeted by their superiors, seniors or managers.
A respondent said she was raped after being told to obey the perpetrator’s demands if she wanted to work.
Lawyer Hironori Takaki, who is familiar with legal affairs in the entertainment industry, said that workers in the industry are prone to harassment due to the lopsided “supply and demand.”
While a limited number of entertainment agencies can offer attractive opportunities, an overwhelming number of talent are looking for work, he said.
Takaki also said the difficulties for talent in switching entertainment agencies resulted in a huge gap in power between the two parties.
In its report, a special team set up by Johnny & Associates to investigate Kitagawa’s sexual abuse allegations also pointed to the absolute power that a famous producer holds over celebrities as a factor behind sexual violence in the entertainment industry.
“Given the lack of objective standards for becoming a star, aspiring celebrities have no other choice but to endure sexual abuse from a producer and others,” the report said.
The film industry has taken a step to address the problem after victims of sexual harassment spoke up against directors and actors last year following the global #MeToo movement that started in Hollywood.
A group of movie studios formulated guidelines calling on companies to assign a point person responsible for preventing harassment on each film shoot and provide anti-harassment training for all staff members.
The group also created a system to check whether the guidelines were being properly implemented.
Meanwhile, an official with a major entertainment agency said sexual and power harassment resulting from the relationship between the ruler and the ruled can occur anywhere and that it is a mistake to say harassment is caused by a problem unique to the entertainment industry.
Lawyer Kunitaka Kasai, who handles lawsuits involving the entertainment industry, said harassment and violence in the industry come in many different forms and that support from outside the industry is essential for dealing with them.
“An effective response may be expected if the central government and other authorities provide a consultation service covering the industry and introduce police, lawyers and other experts depending on the problems that victims face,” Kasai said.
(This article was written by Haruto Hiraoka, Bunna Takizawa and Yohei Goto, a senior staff writer.)
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cooking experts, chefs and others involved in the field of food introduce their special recipes intertwined with their paths in life.
Here is a collection of first-hand accounts by “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.