TOKYO (TR) – Popular actress Fumika Shimizu, 22, plans to retire from the entertainment industry and join a fringe religious organization as a priest due to health concerns, it was learned on Sunday.
During a press conference held on Sunday at the Tokyo headquarters of Kofuku no Kagaku, or the Institute for Research in Human Happiness, often known simply as Happy Science, the organization’s managing director, Eiichi Satomura, said that Shimizu was cancelling her contract with her agency and entering the priesthood under the name Yoko Sengen.
“Even when there were hard times for her in working in the entertainment industry, she gave it her best in delivering invigorating performances,” Satomura said, reports Nikkan Sports (Feb. 12). “However, some of the roles she was given went against her humanitarian beliefs.”
A statement posted on the organization’s website on the same day indicated that this lack of control regarding her work led to “poor physical and mental health.” Shimizu visited hospitals on February 7 and 8 to undergo medical examinations, the organization said. Without specifying her illness, the organization added that a doctor indicated it was necessary for her to take six months off work.
Shimizu, a Tokyo native, is widely known for her role in the television drama “Kamen Rider Fourze,” which ran on TV Asahi in 2011 and 2012. She is scheduled to appear in two films this year, “Tokyo Ghoul” and “Ankoku Joshi” (Darkness Girl).
Satomura said at the press conference that as a child Shimizu began taking an interest in the teachings of Happy Science. Boasting more than 10,000 local branches and temples in Japan and around the world, the organization was founded in 1986 by Ryuho Okawa. According to its website, the organization’s members “become happy by attaining enlightenment.” They “conduct activities based on daily self-reflection, meditation and prayer for the purpose of giving love, attaining enlightenment and creating utopia.”
The situation with Shimizu began to emerge on Saturday, when the Twitter account for Shimizu’s agency, LesPros Entertainment, announced that she would not be appearing on two television programs (Kansai TV’s “Nijiiro Jean” and “Shibuya no Oto” for NHK) over the weekend.
That same day, the then Twitter account of Shimizu, which has since been deleted, posted that she was changing her handle to @sengen777. On that account, the first tweet claims to be “100% the actual person.”
Shimizu’s contract with LesPros Entertainment extends through May 20, according to Sports Hochi (Feb. 13). However, a request was made earlier this month for the contract to be cancelled, according to Happy Science.
At a separate news conference later on Sunday, legal advisers from LesPros Entertainment criticized the request to cancel the contract, citing a lack of medical documentation, according to Daily Sports (Feb. 12). “We do not recognize that the state of [her] health is putting her life in danger,” one of the advisers said. The advisers did not specify whether the company would take legal action against Shimizu.