Johnny Kitagawa, the founder, and president of Johnny & Associates passed away. He was 87 and died of a ruptured cerebral aneurysm on Tuesday afternoon at a Tokyo hospital.

The charismatic leader founded his company in 1962, with the first-ever Japanese all-male idol group, “Johnnys”. In the 40 years since then, he continued to be significantly involved in the management of the company.

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Being regarded as one of the most influential figures in the Japanese entertainment industry, he held a virtual monopoly on the creation of boy bands in Japan for more than 40 years. He is also the holder of 3 Guinness world records, It earned him the nickname, the godfather of the Japanese entertainment industry.

Though influential, he remained close to the members of his idol groups, attending their rehearsal and auditions, bringing food to the table. Members were also close enough to seek personal advice from him over the phone. Johnny Kitagawa doesn’t see himself as an entertainer and thus mostly refused to be photographed or interviewed, leaving few records of media appearances.

Some of the groups produced by his talent agency are, Hey! Say! JUMP, SMAP, Tokio, V6, Arashi, Tackey & Tsubasa, Kanjani8, NEWS, KAT-TUN, KinKi Kids and more. Due to his many achievements over time, he is affectionally known as the God-Father of the Japanese entertainment industry.

At his deathbed, members of the many idol groups he created visited him and “Embraced by love from his children, he closed the final curtain at 4:47 p.m. on July 9, 2019,”

His final wishes for humanity as stated in an issued statement by the agency, wish for continued world peace and may people continued to enjoy entertainment.

So Japan salutes the titan and the closing of yet another chapter in Japan’s entertainment industry.

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Image: Screenshot from JOHNNY’S World: Top of the J-Pops (NHK World)

Source: Japan Time