Significant public attention has recently been brought to the problem of sexual abuse in Japan’s entertainment industry following a BBC documentary on Johnny Kitagawa, in which former child entertainers at Kitagawa’s talent agency reported that Kitagawa sexually abused them, with one alleging a large number of other children staying at Kitagawa’s home also being abused, including complaints as far back as 1965 and published accounts in 1988 and 1999.
The case highlights the barriers to accountability for sexual abuse in the entertainment industry. Only an in-house investigation is being conducted into Kitagawa’s company without independence or ability to ensure accountability.
We welcome the Japanese Diet’s revision of sex crime in the penal code and its redefinition of rape as nonconsensual sexual intercourse. However, it has not yet acted on calls to revise the child abuse prevention law, which only covers abuse by guardians. Finally, Kitagawa’s case represents only one among 1000s of others still being ignored. Numerous influential film directors have been accused of sexual violence against actresses, but there has been no move towards structural reform of the industry.
We call on the Diet to pass comprehensive legislation identifying, preventing and ensuring accountability for sexual abuse in the entertainment industry for all victims. Also, all relevant industry actors, including television and film companies, must act to prevent further sexual violence in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.