The Japanese winner of the Miss International last year pageant is fighting back against a talent agent that she claims has stalked and threatened her - a highly unusual tactic in Japan’s murky entertainment industry.
In an extensive blog on her official Facebook page, Ikumi Yoshimatsu has revealed why she has handed over the Miss International crown to the runner-up in the competition and has been unable to fulfil her duties.
“Harassment and intimidation from one man has deprived me of the role of Miss International,” she wrote. “I have had to fight back tears of mortification.
“The man is the executive of a top talent agency and an influential figure in the media and entertainment industries,” she said. “This is the person who has stalked me for the past year - harassing me, intimidating me, threatening me and obstructing my business.
“We have tried to endure this situation patiently, but the acts have escalated,” she wrote, adding that her assailant had also threatened the organisers of the Miss International pageant.
Yoshimatsu does not name the man she accuses of threatening her and her family in the post, but last week she filed criminal and civil charges against Genichi Taniguchi accusing him of attempting to ruin her career.
Speaking to the media after filing the charges, she claimed that Taniguchi grabbed her in December of last year, shortly after she had accepted her crown at the glittering event in Okinawa, “forced his way into my dressing room and tried to abduct me.”
“Since then, he has intimidated my family, sent private detectives to my home, tried to extort money from me and my company, slandered me in the press and has made threatening calls to my family, sponsors and business associates,” Yoshimatsu is quoted in The Japan Times as saying.
The legal complaint is supported by tape recordings, videos and photographs that allegedly detail Taniguchi’s attacks on her, collected on the advice of Yoshimatsu’s lawyers.
According to Jake Adelstein, the investigative journalist who wrote “Tokyo Vice,” about his years as a reporter covering the Japanese underworld, Yoshimatsu’s problems began in December of last year after deciding on an amicable split with her agency in order to set up her own company.
In a meeting with advisers, a promoter who had previously proposed that Taniguchi represent her suddenly walked in and said she should sign with an agency linked with Burning Productions, Japan’s most powerful agency.
Yoshimatsu refused on the grounds that Burning Productions has long been rumoured to have connections with “yakuza” groups. Adelstein points out that police files that were leaked in 2007 indicate the firm was a client of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest criminal group.
Instead, she went ahead and set up her own firm, with an international agent taken on to explore overseas opportunities.
After filming a programme on December 30, Taniguchi allegedly appeared on the set and began shouting accusations, claiming that the international agent did not represent Yoshimatsu and insisting that the two owed him money.
At one point, video footage shows Taniguchi grabbing Yoshimatsu by the arm and trying to drag her out of the studio.
Over the coming months, Taniguchi allegedly claimed that he would break into Yoshimatsu’s home and take money that he insisted he was owed, while private detectives were tasked with watching the property.
Taniguchi’s alleged threats to the organisers of the Miss International Contest that he would release materials that would shame both the event and Yoshimatsu appear to have struck home. Out of fear of offending one of the biggest names in the business, the organisers asked Yoshimatsu to keep a low profile, pretend to be ill and not to take part in the ceremony to crown her successor.
“I can no longer to out alone as I fear I will be killed by someone,” Yoshimatsu wrote on her Facebook page. “Fortunately, I now have security 24 hours a day - but other women who face the same stalking problem as me have no such security.
“Women are easy targets,” she added.
Taniguchi denied that he harassed Yoshimatsu in comments to The Japan Times.
“I’m no stalker,” he said. “I called her father at least twice to try and reach her manager to solve my financial dispute with him. I have no grudge against her.”