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Japan’s idol industry rife with predatory behavior

Spa! Sep. 22-29
Spa! Sep. 22-29

Earlier this year, Tokyo police arrested an ex-president of a talent agency for sexually violating a 15-year-old aspiring female model on multiple occasions last year.

Weekly tabloid Spa! (Sep. 22-29) says the abuse of prospective employees is not an across-the-board facet of the industry, but the existence of predatory businesses (so-called “black agencies”) is very real.

In investigating the matter, the magazine finds two women in the industry who are willing to share their stories.

Three years ago, Sarii Yoshizawa was a freelance idol in search of an agency.

“One day, a kind of gaudy-looking scout came up to me in the street in Kabukicho,” says the busty 30-year-old in referring to the infamous red-light district in Tokyo. “This guy’s agency represented some of my favorite idols, so I immediately took an interest in what he had to say.”

Not long thereafter, Yoshizawa (whose real name is Ayako Tsutsui) was introduced to the agency’s president at an idol event.

“I was then told that my large chest would make me a perfect candidate for a six-disc DVD special that was in the works,” Yoshizawa continues. “The location for the shoot was overseas.”

Several days later, the scout summoned her back to Kabukicho for the contract signing.

“He told me the president was waiting for me at a hotel,” she remembers. “I then asked why it was not possible to complete the contract proceedings now. ‘What? Is that how you think you can enter an agency? Of course, you’ve got to have a session with the boss first.'”

In the end, Yoshizawa refused the offer. Now, she works as a writer and gravure (pin-up) idol.

Sarii Yoshizawa appears in a photo DVD from 2008 (DMM)
Sarii Yoshizawa appears in a photo DVD from 2008 (DMM)

“I guess there are a lot of girls who wind up in tears after sleeping with a president and then not getting selected (to be a member of the agency),” she says.

Kokona Yuzuki (@kibiruu) is an actress and singer. She is also well aware of agencies that hire male fans (known by the term otaku) to be on staff as managers and make-up artists.

“They become staff members because they want to stay close to the girls,” she says. “But these guys lack a professional mind; once the girls (they are interested in) quit, they quit.”

Some of these otaku establish their own agencies.

“There are some idols who enter these agencies and are able to do what they want,” says Yuzuki. “But the guys wind up in relationships with the girls. So I am sorry for idols who enter these agencies without knowing that.”

An insider tells the magazine that the emergence of these disreputable companies is as a result of entertainment agencies that have increasingly attempted to establish idol enterprises over the past year. These companies, however, lack the financing and know-how to properly manufacture girls into stars.

“So when it comes to actually manufacturing stars it is only a handful of big-name agencies doing it,” says the employee. “As for the rest, they are not idol agencies but rather just DVD production houses.”

Source: “Aidoru (ura) jiken,” Spa! (Sep. 22-29, page 103)