TOKYO: A growing number of major Japanese businesses are deciding to stop using stars and idols from Johnny & Associates Inc. in advertisements due to sexual abuse committed by Johnny Kitagawa, the late founder of the biggest talent agency in the country.
Many advertisers had refrained from making moves before seeing Johnny & Associates’ response to a report from experts confirming Kitagawa’s decades of sex abuse against younger members of the agency.
But in the wake of the company admitting the late founder’s crime for the first time ever and apologizing for the victims at a press conference on Thursday, they began severing ties with the entertainment mammoth.
Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. said the same day it was considering terminating its ad contract with Johnny & Associates. Japan Airlines, which had used the talent agency’s male pop idol group Arashi in ads, said it would forgo newly featuring its members.
On Friday, beverage maker Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. said it would no longer create ads with Johnny & Associates. Industry peers Kirin Holdings Co. and Suntory Holdings Ltd. expressed intention of doing no business with the firm until it takes appropriate action over the scandal.
Nissan Motor Co., which is using the agency’s J-pop singer and actor Takuya Kimura in its ads, issued a statement Monday clarifying its stance of not newly featuring Johnny & Associates members for the time being.
Most recently, McDonald’s Co. (Japan) made it clear Tuesday that the fast food giant, which is also airing Kimura-featuring ads, will not renew its contract, saying, “Any violation of human rights cannot be tolerated.”
Daily goods maker Kao Corp. said the same day that it will “cancel as soon as possible” the existing deals with Johnny & Associates.
Over-the-counter drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare Co. and Itoham Foods Inc. also denied renewing their contracts.
Meanwhile, Mos Food Services Inc. plans to air a television commercial featuring members of a J-pop boy group belonging to the agency from Wednesday as planned.
“We will make a response while confirming situations including the state of relief for the victims,” the major hamburger restaurant chain said Monday.
Fujiya Co. said the same day the confectionery maker would not cancel its current ad contract. But the company also noted that it would “keep a close eye on the agency’s moves from now on to decide whether to renew the deal or not.”