Japanese Theater Firm to Pay Compensation After Harassed Actress’ Death

Hankyu Hanshin, parent company of all-female musical theater company Takarazuka Revue, has apologized to the family of an actor who died in September last year.

The 25-year-old woman died after being harassed by theatre officials and older members of the company, it was alleged. She was found at or near her condominium in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, a case which the local police are treating as probable death by suicide.

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“The two sides have reached a broad agreement on various issues, including compensation,” the Kyodo news agency reported from a press conference held in Osaka on Thursday. The company and family of the deceased met on multiple occasions to hammer out their arrangement.

“We cannot give any excuse for what we have done, considering the feelings of the bereaved family,” Yasuo Shimada, the president of Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, said at the event.

Kyodo also quoted a lawyer, who said that it was legally significant that Takarazuka has now clearly admitted to multiple incidents of harassment and apologized. Earlier, the theater company had said that an investigation by an Osaka law firm was unable to confirm bullying or harassment, but that it did acknowledge the psychological impact.

Japan’s entertainment industry has long been known for looking away from or covering up incidents of misbehavior. In a rigid and patriarchal system, these are often based on hierarchy and seniority.

The sector is still reeling from the revelations last year at powerful talent agency Johnny & Associates, where its late founder Johnny Kitagawa was revealed to have sexually abused several hundred young males. As a result, the company changed its name has begun a compensation payment process and saw the resignation of its CEO.

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