On Tuesday, a Japanese minister announced that the government will set up a hotline for male victims of sexual abuse as the East Asian country combats an abuse scandal at the biggest boyband agency.
Tokyo’s Cabinet Office said the hotline will be open to boys and men for three months from Friday and specialists will take calls for counseling. “We hope victims will feel safe and can consult without hesitation,” Ayuko Kato, minister in charge of children-related policy, told reporters.
The measure was initiated by the government after Johnny & Associates, the boyband empire, revealed for the first time earlier this month that founder Johnny Kitagawa, who passed away at 87 in 2019, had been sexually abusing young recruits for decades.
Kitagawa built J-pop mega-groups including SMAP, TOKIO, and Arashi that are adored by fans throughout Asia.
These allegations first surfaced in the Japanese media in 1999 that he sexually assaulted young men who aspired to be stars. But, in 2023, the allegations were taken seriously after a BBC documentary was released and denunciations by victims.
The Japanese government has made a 24-hour hotline available to both male and female victims of sexual abuse, but a Cabinet Office official informed the news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) that there were concerns that men may be resistant to use the hotline service.
The new hotline is a measure taken under the Japanese government’s “emergency plan” to combat sexual abuse of children.