Scandal-hit talent agency comments on death of ex-performer

Japanese talent agency Smile-Up, formerly known as Johnny & Associates, has commented on the death of a man who said he was sexually abused by the agency's late founder.

The man, who was in his 40s, was found dead in the western prefecture of Osaka in October. Circumstantial evidence suggests he may have taken his own life.

A lawyer representing his family says he had been grappling with psychological problems stemming from the abuse. He had also reportedly faced online slander after speaking out about the matter.

On Tuesday, the agency responded to NHK by releasing a comment on the man's death.

The comment expressed the agency's deepest condolences to the bereaved family and offered prayers for the peaceful rest of his soul.

It also said Smile-Up would like to have sincere dialogue with the bereaved family.

It added that the agency will continue to urge fan club members and the public to refrain from defaming the abuse victims and their families.