McDonald’s, Nissan, Kirin  drop Japanese boyband agency after sex abuse scandal

McDonald’s Japan, automaker Nissan and beer giant Kirin said Tuesday they were dissociating themselves from Japan’s biggest boyband agency following revelations about decades of sex abuse by its late founder.

With their dazzling smiles and suave looks, boyband members made famous by Johnny & Associates have long been ubiquitous in TV commercials and posters for numerous companies.

Last week, the boyband empire admitted for the first time that founder Johnny Kitagawa had sexually assaulted young recruits over decades, before his death in 2019 aged 87.

A McDonald’s Japan spokesperson told AFP the firm plans “not to renew contracts” with the talent agency once they expire, adding “no form of human rights violations is tolerable”.

Similarly, calling the abuse a “grave human rights issue”, a spokesperson for beer giant Kirin Holdings told AFP it would not update its contract with the firm.

“Our ongoing contract with Johnny & Associates will end upon expiration, and we will not implement any new advertisements or promotion campaigns,” the firm said.

It added that steps announced by the agency to compensate victims were not detailed enough and too slow.

Auto giant Nissan said it would also refrain from “developing new sales promotion materials using that talent agency until further notice”, on the grounds that its conduct “contravenes” the automaker’s guidelines on respecting human rights.

“It is extremely regrettable and must be taken seriously,” Nissan’s public relations office told AFP.

Major beverage manufacturer Suntory said in a statement that no new promotional tie-ups with the boyband agency will be struck until it is “sufficiently reassured that measures to save survivors and prevent a recurrence are duly in place”.

In announcing similar measures, brewery powerhouse Asahi Group Holdings also delivered a scathing rebuke of Johnny & Associates, urging it to “take immediate and substantial action to rectify the situation”.

The “noticeable absence of adequate victim support and the lack of significant organisational reforms… are wholly unacceptable and cannot be condoned under any circumstances”, it said in a statement. — Agence France-Presse

Saudi capital Riyadh to host World Expo 2030

The Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday won the right to host the 2030 World Expo, easily defeating rival bids from Italy and South Korea as well as overcoming objections from rights activists.

Hans Sy: Ultimate green warrior

Hans Sy, the 4th of the Sy-blings, as Bilyonaryo calls them, sat down with me to explain his green initiatives in the SM Group, a chat that turned into an interesting look into how he became a sustainability champion, the lessons he learnt from his father, Henry Sy Sr., and legacy-building.

Read More »