In a significant move, United Nations human rights experts are poised to conduct interviews with victims who have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against the late entertainment mogul Johnny Kitagawa. This investigation marks the first official visit by the Working Group on Business and Human Rights to Japan. The sessions are scheduled to take place in Tokyo on Tuesday, and in the city of Osaka on Friday.
The primary objective of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights is to investigate the impact of business operations on human rights and the environment in general. During their visit to Japan, the experts will engage in discussions with various ministries, human rights defenders, academics, and representatives of business enterprises.
Two experts have been appointed for this crucial mission. Pichamon Yeophantong, an associate professor and head of research at Deakin University in Australia, is an expert in business and human rights, as well as national security. On the other hand, Damilola Olawuyi, a professor and UNESCO chair on environmental law and sustainable development at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, brings extensive experience advising various international organizations on business and human rights.
Junya Hiramoto, a former idol at Johnny & Associates, expressed his support for the U.N.’s involvement, stating that the victims of alleged abuse are still suffering, and this investigation is an essential step towards addressing human rights violations.
The process of seeking justice began when Hiramoto, who has been speaking up about the alleged abuse for 35 years, contacted the U.N. on June 14. Subsequently, the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights initiated a hearing involving the victims through Sakon Kuramoto, a lawyer with expertise in human rights.
The group’s findings will be compiled into a comprehensive report, which is set to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June of next year. The Working Group on Business and Human Rights, established by the Human Rights Council in 2011, plays a pivotal role in providing advice on human rights violations in the business sector.
On another front, Johnny & Associates hired a team of third-party experts to conduct an investigation into the abuse allegations. The team, comprised of a lawyer, a psychiatrist, and a researcher studying support for sexual abuse victims, aims to delve deeper into the claims made by victims. Interestingly, the team clarified that the results of its investigation would not be shared with the authorities, as they are acting solely in a private capacity.
The U.N. group’s decision to conduct interviews with alleged victims came to light before the third-party investigation team could approach them. Kazuya Nakamura, a former member of Johnny & Associates who has come forward as a victim of Kitagawa’s sexual abuse, expressed his frustration, stating that the third-party team was unresponsive to communication attempts.
The impact of these allegations has not gone unnoticed by the Japanese government. Hirokazu Matsuno, the chief Cabinet secretary, confirmed that the government is aware of the U.N. working group’s visit. Minister Masanobu Ogura is currently leading a joint meeting of senior officials from relevant government ministries and agencies to strengthen measures against child sexual abuse.
Johnny Kitagawa, who passed away at the age of 87 in 2019, faced allegations of sexual abuse that gained both domestic and international attention when the BBC aired a documentary featuring survivors’ accounts in March.
The involvement of the United Nations human rights experts in investigating the allegations of sexual abuse by Johnny Kitagawa is a significant step towards seeking justice for the victims. The interviews and findings from this visit are expected to shed light on human rights violations in the business sector and bring attention to the ongoing impact of such abuses on survivors.