Major Japanese Advertisers Canceling Contracts with Johnny’s StarsSociety Entertainment
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.
Individual Responses to Johnny and Associates Scandal
|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.)