TOKYO: Japan’s national broadcaster NHK on Wednesday said it was cutting ties with the nation’s most successful boyband agency Johnny & Associates after it admitted its late founder sexually abused young recruits over decades.

A host of brands have already dropped the company’s stars in recent weeks over the abuse committed by Johnny Kitagawa, who engineered the birth of J-pop mega-groups that amassed adoring fans across Asia before his death aged 87 in 2019.

“We will suspend making new offers until we make sure that it is taking concrete steps to compensate the victims and taking prevention measures,” NHK’s president Nobuo Inaba said at a regular press conference

It means the agency’s top stars may not appear in NHK’s enormously popular annual music show on December 31, “Kohaku Uta Gassen”, watched by around a third of Japanese households.

Earlier this month, the agency admitted that Kitagawa had sexually assaulted teenage boys and young men seeking stardom over decades, some allegedly as young as 12.

Allegations about Kitagawa had circulated for decades but it took a BBC documentary this year to prompt soul-searching and a probe by an external panel which issued a damning report in August.

Brands including McDonald’s Japan, automaker Nissan and beer giant Kirin dissociated themselves from the agency and its stable of performers following the report.

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