Johnny Kitagawa: Power, Abuse, and the Japanese Media Omerta

  • Variety
Will the death of Johnny Kitagawa lead to a change of attitude by the Japanese media to the powerful Johnny & Associates talent agency that he formed?

Public broadcaster Nhk and others this week reported a warning to the company from the Fair Trade Commission over alleged pressure on TV stations to keep members of the boy band Smap off air following its breakup. Johnny’s denied the allegations and that it had not received an administrative punishment, but added that it would be “careful not to cause future misunderstandings.”

When Kitagawa died on July 9, age 87, the Japanese media treated it as major news. President of Johnny’s, Kitagawa was a power on the Japanese entertainment scene for more than 40 years, launching a succession of boy bands. His acts, including Tanokin Trio, Smap, Arashi, Kinki Kids and Kat-tun, not only generated hit records, but became ubiquitous on TV as everything from
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