Johnny & Associates
Johnny & Associates (株式会社ジャニーズ事務所, Kabushiki-gaisha Janīzu Jimusho) is a Japanese talent agency, formed by Johnny Kitagawa in 1962, which trains and promotes groups of male entertainers known as Johnny's (ジャニーズ, Janīzu).
Johnny & Associates' Headquarters in Minato, Tokyo
Number of employees
In 1962, Kitagawa launched his first group, Johnnys. In early days, Kitagawa's agency rented an office space owned by Watanabe Productions, operating under its management as well. Six years later, Four Leaves, a boy band created by the agency, became successful. Four Leaves left a lasting legacy to the industry because of the fact that it was produced as a "band that does not play instruments", a product of Kitagawa's taste for emphasizing the attributes, personality and physical abilities of a performer. Since then Kitagawa has formed a number of successful acts, such as solo artist Masahiko Kondō, whose song, "Orokamono" (愚か者, Fool), won the 1987 Japan Record Award, and Hikaru Genji, the first Johnny group with three singles on the Japanese Oricon yearly chart in 1988.
The agency played an integral role in the postwar growth of Japanese boy band, and "Idol" (or Aidoru by Japanese pronunciation), a group of young performance-oriented talents tightly managed by an agency (Jimusho) that wields greater influence than of the West, the ones Kitagawa called Johnny's, cultivated through the systemic training camp in which trainees (Juniors) are usually admitted at their early age after clearing screening by mail application and audition, and live together (Gasshuku) until their debuts. The system was the conceptualization of Kitagawa's way to produce boy bands.
SMAP was launched in April 1988, only to suffer an initial setback resulted from the fierce competition in already-matured "idol" market in Japan, in which harsh training in collaborative choreographed dance and singing that often required superior physical capabilities, even gymnastics in some cases, had become a norm. In response, instead of focusing on its performance on the stage, SMAP started to engage in broader entertainment fields in the 90s not just by acting in dramas or films but taking roles in variety shows which led to having its own weekly TV show that went on for 20 years uninterrupted where the members as the joint hosts would prepare dishes for the guest stars and deliver comedy skits and banters in a relaxed manner, stocking its unique popularity referred to as "national syndrome" during its prime and later years while its success set an alternative yet new mainstream model for Johnny & Associates and the "idol" scene as a whole, a model that has been met with increasingly critical reception for its take-all business practices - as "idols" actively took roles in dramas, films, plays, and TV shows - as well as its role in the overall stagnation of the level of an "idol"'s artistic features in Japan.
During the 1990s Johnny & Associates began declining nominations from the Japan Record Awards and the Japan Academy Awards, partly due to a dispute about the musical genre of one of their groups at the 32nd Japan Record Awards. Another reason cited was that the nominations would engender competition among Johnny groups and with other nominees.
In 1997 the agency founded a record label, Johnny's Entertainment. Also, a New Year's Eve countdown concert is held live on Fuji TV from the Tokyo Dome since 1996 known as Johnny's Countdown Live with a different theme each year.
In 2006, Oricon sued journalist Hiro Ugaya when he was quoted in a Cyzo magazine article suggesting that the company manipulated its statistics to benefit certain management companies and labels (specifically, Johnny & Associates. Ugaya condemned the action as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, and it was later dropped by Oricon with no charges filed against the journalist.
In 2007, temporary Johnny's Jr. group, Hey! Say! 7, broke a record as the youngest male group to ever top Oricon charts, with an average age of 14.8 years. Later that year, Hey! Say! JUMP broke a record as the largest group to debut in Johnny's history, with ten members. By 2008, Johnny & Associates was known as the "top 3" recording artist companies.
On November 19, 2010, Masahiko Kondo received the Best Vocal Performance award at the 52nd Japan Record Awards; Kondo was the first Johnny recipient since Ninja refused to perform live at the 1990 awards.
On September 18, 2011, Kitagawa received Guinness World Record awards for the most number-one singles (232) and the most concerts (8,419 from 1974 to 2010) produced by an individual. His shows have been attended by an estimated 48,234,550 people.
In 2018, Johnny & Associates, who had been previously known for strictly controlling access to their acts, established a YouTube channel for their trainee groups, Johnny's Jr. In January 2019, Hideaki Takizawa was named the president of a new subdivision of the company called Johnny's Island, where he will manage and oversee the debut of trainee group Snow Man. After Kitagawa's death on July 9, 2019, his niece, Julie Keiko Fujishima was made the new president of the agency, while Takizawa and Suguru Shirahase became the vice presidents and Kitagawa's older sister, Mary Yasuko Fujishima, became the executive director.
In 1998, Johnny's groups KinKi Kids, V6 and Tokio, formed a special charity-oriented group called J-Friends, to raise funds for the 1995 Hanshin and Awaji earthquake victims. The group continued with several activities, until their disbandment in 2003.
The agency continued its fundraising project, now with Marching J, for the Tōhoku earthquake victims in 2011. Its first event was held on April 1–3. Hey! Say! JUMP, SMAP, Tokio, KinKi Kids, V6, Arashi, Tackey and Tsubasa, NEWS, Kanjani8, KAT-TUN and Johnny's Juniors participated in the fundraiser, which included talk sessions and a cappella performances. The agency planned to hold one fundraiser per month for a year. The next event, a baseball tournament featuring Johnny's Jrs., was held on May 29. After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Johnny & Associates cancelled or postponed 18 concerts, including shows by Tomohisa Yamashita and Tackey & Tsubasa. Generators, trucks and 2,000 litres (530 US gal) of gasoline which would have been used at the concerts were donated to the relief effort.
Charity activities continued as Johnny's "Smile Up! Project". On May 13, 2020, it was reported that 76 of Johnny's artists from 15 groups, including V6, Arashi, News and others, would be included in the temporary unit "Twenty Twenty", as part of Johnny's charity project with support activity to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This group would sing the song "Smile", written by Mr. Children's Kazutoshi Sakurai, which was released as a single in digital form on June 22, and on CD on August 12. Yuya Tegoshi was taken off the grouping, due to reports of his failing to keep orders to stay at home during the emergency situation in April. Later on, it was revealed that his contract had been terminated, and that he had left the company.
Views and controversiesEdit
The business model of Johnny & Associates has an agency at the center in most areas in which it operates (Jimusho system); the company has had its own recording, publishing, producing, filmmaking, merchandising, advertising and cosmetics manufacturing arms, a vertical integration that parallels Japanese Keiretsu system, and directly controls the fans by organising them into Family Club, a closed, membership-based platform on which its artists and their fans can communicate and share information with each other.
Johnny & Associates exercise strict control over all information about their talents, to the point where photographs were initially not posted on their official website and silhouettes were used to represent them on official websites of their acting projects. In addition to this, Johnny & Associates do not use social media due to their talents' blogs and photos offered on a paid subscription basis through their official fan club website, Johnny's Web. In 2011, Johnny & Associates began posting photos of their talents on their official website. On January 31, 2018, Johnny & Associates lifted their photo ban completely and allowed the press to photograph and post images of their talents. In the same year, Johnny & Associates launched a YouTube channel for Johnny's Jr.
Sexual harassment allegationsEdit
In 1988, former Four Leaves member Koji Kita alleged in his book Dear Hikaru Genji that he had been propositioned by Kitagawa and that Kitagawa operated a casting couch. In 1996, former Johnny Jr.'s member Junya Hiramoto alleged in his book All About Johnnys that Kitagawa shared the boys' communal dormitory and insisted on washing their backs at bath time. In 2001, Shukan Bunshun ran a series of similar sexual harassment allegations along with claims that Kitagawa had allegedly forced the boys to drink alcohol and smoke. Johnny & Associates sued Shukan Bunshun for defamation, and in 2002, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Kitagawa, awarding him ¥8.8 million in damages. In 2003, the fine was lowered to ¥1.2 million on the basis that the drinking and smoking allegations were defamatory, while the sexual harassment claims were not. Kitagawa filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Japan, but it was rejected in 2004.
Media blacklisting investigationEdit
For years, Johnny & Associates has been suspected of having connections with the mass media to produce extensive and favorable coverage on the company, its acts, and Kitagawa, while reducing coverage on anything perceived to be a threat to their image and sales. On July 18, 2019, Johnny & Associates was investigated by the Fair Trading Commission for potentially violating the Anti-Monopoly Act due to accusations of pressuring the media to reduce coverage on Atarashii Chizu, a group made up of former SMAP members Shingo Katori, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Goro Inagaki. Despite lack of hard evidence, Johnny & Associates received a warning.
Former recording artistsEdit
- Project groups
- J-Friends consists of Tokio, V6, KinKi Kids, who performed as a charity group.
- Secret Agent consists of Noriyuki Higashiyama and Ryo Nishikido, who performed the theme song for the drama Heisei Meoto Jawan.
- MiMyCen consists of Go Morita, Ken Miyake, and Junichi Okada, who performed the theme song for the variety show MiMyCen!
- MiMyCen consists of Kota Yabu, Hikaru Yaotome, Naoya Akama, Shoon Yamashita, Taiyo Ayukawa, and Masaki Hoshino, who performed the theme song for the anime Nintama Rantarō and had a variety show of the same name.
- Toraji Haiji consists of Tsuyoshi Domoto and Taichi Kokubun, who performed the theme song for the film Fantastipo.
- Shūji to Akira consists of Kazuya Kamenashi and Tomohisa Yamashita, who performed the theme song for the drama Nobuta wo Produce.
- GYM consists of Golf, Tomohisa Yamashita, and Mike, who performed the theme song for the Women's Volleyball games.
- Kisarazu Cats Eye feat. MCU consists of Junichi Okada, Sho Sakurai, Yoshinori Okada (non-Johnny's), Tsukamoto Takashi (non-Johnny's), and Ryuta Sato (non-Johnny's), who performed the theme song for the drama Kisarazu Cat's Eye: World Series.
- Trio the Shakiiin consists of Noriyuki Higashiyama, Go Morita, and Kenta Suga (non-Johnny's), who performed the theme song for the drama Kuitan.
- Hey! Say! 7 consists of Yuya Takaki, Daiki Arioka, Ryosuke Yamada, Yuto Nakajima, and Yuri Chinen, who performed "Hey! Say!", the theme song for the anime Lovely Complex.
- Matchy with Question consists of Masahiko Kondo, Daijiro Yonemura, Yoshihiro Yodogawa, Kazuyori Fujiie, Akun Igo, and Daisuke Ishigaki, who performed the theme song for the anime Naruto.
- The Shigotonin consists of Noriyuki Higashiyama, Masahiro Matsuoka, and Tadayoshi Okura, who performed the theme song for the drama Hissatsu Shigotonin.
- NYC boys consists of Ryosuke Yamada, Yuri Chinen, Yuma Nakayama, Kento Nakajima, Fuma Kikuchi, Hokuto Matsumura, and Yugo Kochi, who performed the theme song for the Women's Volleyball games.
- Snow Prince Gasshodan consists of Shintarō Morimoto, Shintarō Kishimoto, Reia Nakamura, Kei Kurita, Yūya Ōtsuka, Tatsuya Horinouchi, Aoi Okada, Yūki Haba, Ryō Hashimoto, Mizuki Inoue, and Aoi Chino, who performed the theme song for the film Snow Prince: Kinjirareta Koi no Melody.
- Lands consists of Jin Akanishi and Takeshi Kobayashi, who performed as a tie-in to the film Bandage.
- Marching J consists of Tokio, V6, KinKi Kids, Hey! Say! JUMP, SMAP, Arashi, Tackey and Tsubasa, NEWS, Kanjani8, KAT-TUN and Johnny's Juniors, for a total of 83 people who performed as a charity group.
- A.N. Jell consists of Hikaru Yaotome, Taisuke Fujigaya, Yuta Tamamori, and Miori Takimoto (non-Johnny's), who performed as a tie-in to the drama Ikemen desu ne.
- The Monsters consists of Shingo Katori and Tomohisa Yamashita, who performed the theme song for the drama Monsters.
- Hottake Band consists of Kazuya Kamenashi and Koji Tamaki, who performed the theme song for the drama Tokyo Bandwagon.
- Jigoku-zu consists of Tomoya Nagase, Ryunosuke Kamiki (non-Johnny's), Kenta Kiritani (non-Johnny's), and Nana Seino (non-Johnny's), who performed the theme song for the film Too Young to Die! Wakakushite Shinu.
- Kame to YamaP consists of Kazuya Kamenashi and Tomohisa Yamashita, who performed the theme song for the drama Boku, Unmei no Hito Desu.
- A.Y.T consists of Yuya Takaki, Hikaru Yaotome and Daiki Arioka from Hey! Say! JUMP, who performed the theme song for the drama Koshoku Robot.
- Akasaka was arrested for drug possession on October 28, 2007. Johnny & Associates announced his dismissal on October 29, 2007.
- Yamaguchi was suspended indefinitely on April 26, 2018, after he was referred to prosecutors for sexually harassing a teenage girl. On May 2, 2018, he handed his resignation letter to TOKIO's leader, Shigeru Joshima. Yamaguchi officially resigned on May 6, 2018.
- Imai announced his departure on September 13, 2018. The announcement came with a notice of disbandment from Tackey & Tsubasa. Imai, who has Ménière's disease, will be focusing on his health.
- Tanaka contract with Johnny & Associates was terminated on September 30, 2013 due to several contract violations.
- On June 27, 2011, Morimoto was suspended indefinitely for underage smoking. His profile was removed from the official Johnny & Associates website in 2012.
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