Former Johnny & Associates performer who said abuse by late founder has died

A man who said he was sexually abused by the founder of the Japanese talent agency formerly known as Johnny & Associates has died. Circumstantial evidence suggests he may have taken his own life.

Investigative sources say the man, who was in his 40s, was one of many former performers who claim they were sexually abused by the late Johnny Kitagawa.

The man was found dead in Osaka Prefecture in mid-October.

A lawyer representing his family says he had been suffering psychological problems stemming from the abuse. He was also reported to have been subjected to online slander, after speaking out about Kitagawa's misconduct.

The family issued a statement on Tuesday, saying they are dazed and still unable to come to terms with the sudden loss of their loved one.

The statement says the man reported the sexual abuse to the agency in May of this year, but he became more anxious and stressed when it did not take action.

It also says he asked the agency to address the issue of the online slander but the agency failed to take specific measures other than calling for it to stop. The family says that as the trauma from the abuse recurred, the man developed increasingly serious psychological stress.

Slander against those saying to have been abused by Kitagawa has become a serious problem. Since last month, three former performers have filed complaints to the police.

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