Japan Data

Major Japanese Advertisers Canceling Contracts with Johnny’s Stars

Society Entertainment

Japanese companies are responding to the scandal surrounding Johnny and Associates by canceling advertising contracts with the talent agency’s stars.

Amid a continued media spotlight on sexual abuse by the late Johnny Kitagawa (1931–2019), former head of Johnny and Associates, major Japanese companies are rethinking their use of the talent agency’s stars in television commercials and other advertising. A survey by Teikoku Databank found that 65 Japanese listed companies had Johnny’s stars in their advertisements in 2023. As of September 13, 6 had immediately canceled these commercials, while 10 plan not to renew contacts once they expire. Some companies that initially indicated they would continue as before later changed their minds. In all cases, the reason given for dropping the agency’s stars was that the companies could not accept abuse or harassment.

In addition to tightened rules on compliance and governance at listed companies, in Western markets with a strong emphasis on human rights, sexual abuse of minors calls for a strong response. At the same time, some advertisers have noted that the stars themselves are not guilty, showing gratitude for their activities to date and in some cases seeking to sign contracts with them directly, rather than through the agency.

Listed Companies’ Response to Johnny and Associates Scandal

Individual Responses to Johnny and Associates Scandal

Advertiser Response Star
Asahi Group Will not renew contract. Okada Jun’ichi
Kaō Will cancel as soon as possible. Nakajima Kento
McDonald’s Japan Will not renew contract. Kimura Takuya
Daiichi Sankyō Healthcare Will not renew contract. Matsumoto Jun
Itōham Foods Will not renew contract. Ninomiya Kazunari
Suntory Will not make contract until confirmation of measures preventing recurrence. Matsumura Hokuto
Nissan Will not use in new advertising. Kimura Takuya
Lion Will not renew contract, negotiating a direct contract. Aiba Masaki
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Will suspend star’s activities as agricultural welfare ambassador. Jōshima Shigeru
Fukushima Prefecture Will continue as before. “While sexual abuse is unacceptable, we are grateful for the members’ support of Fukushima Prefecture.” Tokio

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Reuters.)

J-pop sexual abuse Johnny Kitagawa