A man who was a member of an association for sexual abuse victims of Johnny Kitagawa, the late founder of Japanese boyband agency Johnny & Associates, has died in what local media is reporting as a possible suicide.
The unnamed man was in his 40s and was found in the mountains in Minoo in Japan‘s Osaka Prefecture in mid-October alongside what is believed to be a suicide note, the Kyodo News agency said. He had claimed to have been sexually abused by Kitagawa.
A representative for the association previously said that the group had received a barrage of online abuse since it was formed.
In early October, Johnny & Associates rebranded and split into two companies after the the pop giant acknowledged that Kitagawa, who died in 2019 at age 87, had sexually abused boys signed by the agency over a span of several decades.
Also in October, it was revealed that an external committee for victim relief set up by the agency had received reports from 478 people. The agency, which was renamed Smile-Up to solely focus on identifying and compensating victims, said it would begin payments in November.
Kitagawa, whose successful J-pop groups included Smap, Arashi and SixTones, was never charged over any of the accusations. In late August, an investigation team found that he began sexually abusing boys in the 1950s, the Japan Times reported.
Rumors of his actions were rampant throughout the years, but gained renewed attention when the BBC aired a documentary about Kitagawa earlier this year. Over the summer, the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights said the allegations involved several hundreds of the company’s talents.