Johnny & Associates
In 1962, Kitagawa launched his first group, Johnnys. In its early days, Kitagawa's agency rented an office space owned by Watanabe Productions, operating under its management as well. +more Six years later, Four Leaves, a boy band created by the agency, became successful. Four Leaves left a lasting legacy to the industry because it was produced as a "Group sounds 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), won the 1987 Japan Record Award, and Hikaru Genji, the first Johnny group with three singles on the Japanese Oricon yearly chart in 1988.
Johnny & Associates played an integral role in the post-war growth of Japanese boy bands and the idol industry. While there were idols since the 1970s who were able to sing and dance at the same time, the agency popularized the idea of performance-oriented idols in the 1980s. +more Kitagawa himself was credited with pioneering the idol system where trainees (known as Johnny Jr. ) are admitted into the agency at a young age to train in singing, dancing, and acting until their debut.
Around the 1990s, Johnny & Associates' marketing strategy changed to include variety show hosting as a specialty in their talents. At the time, the agency focused on marketing the singing and dancing talents of their acts until they would retire around age 25 as they aged out of the industry. +more Taking note of former Shibugakitai member Hirohide Yakumaru's success as an MC on Hanamaru, Johnny & Associates subsequently trained their more recent groups to have public personas as well.
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. +more8 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, especially Kitagawa, 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 would manage and oversee the debut of trainee group Snow Man. +more 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. After that, Johnny & Associates not only made the discography for some of their talent, that included collaborations with other artists, available on streaming platforms, and opened social network sites for them, but also opened for itself an official Twitter in English in 2021.
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. +more 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 l 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. +more 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. Activities continued on the end-of-year period with a new awareness campaign against COVID-19 and the Flu, starting on November 24. "Aitsu", the new project, revolves around a series of movies continuing the health measure awareness used from the beginning of the pandemic, like the correct form of washing hands, the continuous use of a mask, among others. The movies would be distributed around Japan and also be included in the Smile Up! Project's social network accounts.
Views and controversies
Accessibility to talents
The business model of Johnny & Associates has an agency at the center in most areas in which it operates; the company has had its own recording, publishing, producing, filmmaking, merchandising, and advertising arms, a vertical integration that parallels Japanese system, and for most of its history transmitted information directly to fans exclusively through the Family Club, a tightly controlled, membership-based platform on which its artists and their fans can communicate and share information with each other. During the 20th century, the F. +moreC. was largely maintained through mail and fax.
Johnny & Associates exercises strict control over their talents' likeness, to the point where photographs were initially not even posted on the company's official website and silhouettes were used in place of actual imagery on official websites of films and television in which the talent appeared. In addition to this, Johnny & Associates until recently did not use social media, limiting digital contents to paid subscription services like Johnny's Web. +more 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 post approved images of their talents more freely. In March of the same year, Johnny & Associates launched a YouTube channel for selected Johnny's Jr. groups. Since Kitagawa's death in 2019, Johnny & Associates have expanded accessibility for their talents.
Sexual harassment allegations
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. +more'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 in damages. In 2003, the fine was lowered to 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. The case saw minimal coverage in Japan, with many journalists attributing it to Kitagawa's influence on Japanese mass media.
Media blacklisting investigation
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. An example noted by journalists mention that Kitagawa would threaten to withdraw his talents from certain music programs and channels if they provide unfavorable coverage or invite competing boy bands from other agencies. +more 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.
Sub-units * Busaiku
Entertainers * ** ** ** ** Yudai Tatsumi
Trainees are known as Johnny's Jr. and have traditionally performed on Johnny's related variety shows and as backup dancers for the agency's groups. +more However, in recent years select Junior groups have taken on levels of visibility akin to mainstream senior acts, including national commercial sponsorships, solo concerts, national tours, and starring film and television roles.
HiHi Jets (ja) - formed 2015 * Bi Shonen (美 少年) - formed 2016 * 7 Men Samurai - formed 2018 * Shonen Ninja (少年忍者) - formed 2018 * Jr. +more SP (ja) - formed 2018 * IMPACTors (ja) - formed 2020 * Go!Go!Kids (ja)- formed 2022 * Lil Kansai (Lil かんさい) - formed 2019 * Ae! group (Aぇ! group) - formed 2019 * Boys be (ja) - formed 2020 * AmBitious (ja)- formed 2021.
Former recording artists
Johnnys (1962-1967) ** Hiromi Maie (1962-?) ** Osami Iino (1962-1968) ** Ryo Nakatani (1962-?) ** Teruhiko Aoi (1962-1967) * Four Leaves (1968-1976) ** Kōji Kita (1966-1989) ** Takashi Aoyama (1966-1978) ** Toshio Egi (1966-?) ** Masao Orimo (1966-?) ** Eiji Nagata (1966-1977) * Hiromi Go (1971-1975) * Teruyoshi Aoi (1973-1976) * Jo Toyokawa (1975-1979) * Little Gang (1975-1976) * Mayo Kawasaki (1976-1989) * Masahiko Kondō (1977-2021) * Toshihiko Tahara (1979-1994) * Ippei Hikaru (1980-1985) * Shibugakitai (1982-1988) ** Hirohide Yakumaru ** Toshikazu Fukawa ** Masahiro Motoki * Shigeyuki Nakamura (1982-1993) * The Good-Bye (1983-1990) * Hikaru Genji (1987-1995) ** Mikio Ôsawa (1982-1994) ** Kazumi Morohoshi (1984-1994) ** Hiroyuki Satō (1983-1994) ** Junichi Yamamoto (1986-2002) ** Akira Akasaka (1987-2007) * SMAP (1990-2016) ** Katsuyuki Mori (1987-1996) ** Goro Inagaki (1987-2016) ** Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (1987-2016) ** Shingo Katori (1988-2016) ** Masahiro Nakai (1986-2020) * Otokogumi (1988-1993) ** Shoji Narita ** Kazuya Takahashi ** Koyo Maeda * Ninja (1990-1997) * TOKIO ** Hiromu Kojima (1990-1994) ** Tatsuya Yamaguchi (1989-2018) ** Tomoya Nagase (1992-2021) * V6 (1995-2021) ** Go Morita (1995-2021) * Tackey & Tsubasa (2002-2018) ** Tsubasa Imai (1995-2018) * NEWS ** Hironori Kusano (2001-2008) ** Takahiro Moriuchi (2001-2003) ** Yuya Tegoshi (2003-2020) ** Tomohisa Yamashita (1996-2020) * KAT-TUN ** Koki Tanaka (1998-2013) ** Jin Akanishi (1998-2014) ** Junnosuke Taguchi (1999-2016) * Hey! Say! JUMP ** Ryutaro Morimoto (2004-2011) * Kanjani Eight ** Ryo Nishikido (2004-2019) ** Subaru Shibutani (2004-2018) * Tegomass (2006-2020)
* Johnny's Junior Special (1975) * Tanokin Trio (1980-1983) * J-Friends (1998) * Secret Agent (2000) * MiMyCen (2001) * Ya-Ya-yah (2002) * Toraji Haiji (2005) * Shūji to Akira (2005) * GYM (2006) * Kisarazu Cats Eye feat. MCU (2006) * Trio the Shakiiin (2007) * Hey! Say! 7 (2007) * Matchy with Question (2008) * The Shigotonin (2009) * NYC boys (2009) * Snow Prince Gasshodan (2009) * Lands (2009) * Marching J (2011) * A. +moreN. Jell (2011) * The Monsters (2012) * Hottake Band (2014) * Jigoku-zu (2016) * Kame to Yamapi (2017) * A. Y. T (2017).