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President of Japanese boy band company resigns following sex abuse accusations against the late founder

A powerful Japanese entertainment company tarnished by sexual assault allegations against its late founder appointed one of its stars as its new president Thursday after the previous chief resigned and apologized for the abuse young clients suffered over decades.

Julie Keiko Fujishima announced she was stepping down as president of Johnny & Associates, the talent agency founded by her late uncle, Johnny Kitagawa. She said the alleged sex abuse had really happened and that she would stay on the company’s board to see through a victim compensation program.

“This is what my uncle committed, and as a niece, I want to take responsibility,” Fujishima said solemnly.

Nine men have formed a group demanding an apology and financial compensation from Johnny’s. They say they were raped by Kitagawa when they were minors.

They were pleased the company apologized and promised compensation, but some had reservations, while others said Higashiyama had not told the whole truth.

“The wounds in my heart will not heal,” Yukihiro Oshima told reporters. “But I feel a little better.”

Higashiyama denied he was a victim. He said Kitagawa had been like a father to him, while denouncing his acts as “the most pathetic in the history of humankind.”

When he found out what Kitagawa had done, he felt as though he had lost everything, Higashiyama recalled.

“Whether I am qualified to take on this job, you be the judge,” he said.

Separately, Guiness World Records said it had stripped Kitagawa of all the records he had held, such as No. 1 hits, according to its policy toward “criminals.”

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