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Japan boyband agency admits two more employees committed sexual abuse

TOKYO, Japan — Japan's biggest and most successful boyband agency has admitted that two more employees carried out sexual abuse, months after it said its late founder had abused young aspiring stars.

The two employees of Johnny & Associates were "firmly dealt with" last year, the company, which has changed its name to Smile-Up, said Thursday.

Disgraced music mogul Johnny Kitagawa died in 2019 aged 87, after engineering the birth of J-pop mega-groups and amassing adoring fans across Asia.

But his legacy was posthumously tarnished last year by cascading revelations about his decades-long sexual abuse of young boys seeking stardom under his tutelage.

In August, a report published by a taskforce investigating Kitagawa's crimes said that in addition to him, "other staff at the agency were confirmed to have perpetrated sex abuse", providing no details of the number of employees involved.

But on Thursday, Smile-Up clarified that there had been two additional offenders, following an interview agency head Noriyuki Higashiyama gave to the BBC, whose documentary on Kitagawa's predatory history last year prompted soul-searching.

Up until now, "we have refrained from elaborating on their cases to protect the privacy of those involved, and prevent defamation against them," Smile-Up said in a statement.

"None of those who have reported to us sexual abuse (by Kitagawa) have made detailed complaints against" the two, it added.

"But should complaints arise in future, we will investigate them and sincerely redress the survivors."