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Suicide of president beginning of end for Tokyo agency Yellow Cab

A DVD featuring models from Yellow Cab
A DVD featuring models from Yellow Cab
For many men in Japan, this year’s Valentine’s Day was a heart breaker.

Last Friday, it was learned that Yellow Cab, a venerable talent agency known for busty pin-up idols and models, had filed for bankruptcy.

The company ceased operations at the end of January with 400 million yen in liabilities, according to research firm Teikoku Databank.

Cracks in the company’s empire first emerged a decade ago, with the culmination being the suicide of president Takanori Obenata, reports Tokyo Sports (Feb. 14).

“At the time, the company was undergoing a painful transition in management,” says an entertainment insider of the period headed by Obenata, who was found hanged at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo’s Minato Ward in 2012.

Following the suicide, top-name idols Eiko Koike and Eriko Sato were poised to leave.

“If the pair had left it would have meant immediate bankruptcy,” says the aforementioned insider. “So the agency pushed hard for them to stay.”

To that point, the company, founded in 1980 by Hisao Kurosawa (the son of the famed film director Akira), had carved out a remarkable niche in Japan’s entertainment industry.

In 1988, then president Yoshiharu Noda first adopted the name Yellow Cab, which started on its road to prosperity due to appearances by busty idols Fumie Hosokawa, Shinobu Horie and Akiko Hinagata on television programs.

The beginning of the managerial problems started in 2004, when Obenata replaced Noda, who went on to form agency Suns Entertainment. Noda took popular pin-up star Megumi with him while Saito and Koike stayed at Yellow Cab.

According to Sports Nippon (Feb. 14), Suns flourished and Yellow Cab withered due largely to an inability to develop fresh talent.

Yellow Cab was effectively running on fumes after the suicide of Obenata, and Sato and Koike were left with little to do. “Thereafter, the two were assigned to Dream Cab, an agency formed in April of last year through funding by an IT company in Kyoto,” says an employee in the television industry. “The agreement was a two-year deal but they walked (out early).”

Sato this month joined agency Knockout, while Koike is expected to form a new agency with her husband, professional wrestler Wataru Sakata.

Regarding the demise of Yellow Cab, which at its peak was referred to as the “Big Breast Army,” former president Noda tells Tokyo Sports that the development is unfortunate but he has more important things to consider at present.

“Rather than look back at the past, I would prefer to focus my energy on managing my current company,” says Noda. (K.N.)

Source: ““Kyonyu gundan” ierokyabu shometsu! Sodate no oya noda shi ‘tadatada zannen,'” Tokyo Sports (Feb. 14)