—by Christopher Johnson in Tokyo —
Tokyo Vice author Jake Adelstein is leading a campaign to defend a Japanese beauty queen from alleged abuses in the Japanese entertainment industry.
Adelstein, who has covered the story for the Japan Times and the Daily Beast, hosted a Monday press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan by Ikumi Yoshimatsu, who was crowned Miss International last year by the Tokyo-based organization. Yoshimatsu has filed charges against a powerful talent agent whose company she refused to join.
Adelstein, a former general assignment reporter at the major daily Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo, accused Japanese media of ignoring her story, though 700,000 have viewed her blog, he said. “Japanese media is fairly spineless in reporting on scandals,” Adelstein said.
On her official Facebook page, Yoshimatsu has accused a talent agent of allegedly stalking her, harassing her and her family, and blacklisting her from the entertainment industry. (https://www.facebook.com/yoshimatsuikumi)
The agent denies the accusations, saying Yoshimatsu’s current agent Matt Taylor owes him money from a court ruling last year.
Yoshimatsu told the Shukan Bunshu magazine that the agent, Genichi Taniguchi, burst into a studio during a live TV recording last December, grabbed her, forced his way into her dressing room, and allegedly tried to harass her and abduct her.
Adelstein reported in his first of two Japan Times articles that Taniguchi, president of Pearl Dash and an executive with K-Dash, which handles major Japanese stars, has denied the accusations. “Yes, I just happened to be visiting the set of ‘Bankisha!’ but I did not harass Ms. Yoshimatsu,” he told the Japan Times. “I’m no stalker. 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 and Bunshun’s article is very wrong.”
Adelstein’s article, however, highlights Yoshimatsu’s accusations that Taniguchi has tried to ruin her career. The article, biased toward Yoshimatsu’s side, includes Taniguchi’s denials at the very end.
The first Japan Times article, and a follow-up a week later, does not mention key facts, which Adelstein reported in the Daily Beast. “I’m no stalker. Her manager, Matt Taylor, owes me a large sum of money and I was merely trying to get paid back. Yes, I was at the TV shooting on December 30, but I never grabbed Ms. Yoshimatsu and didn’t cause any trouble. I never hired a private detective to spy on her,” Taniguchi said, according to Adelstein.
(It’s not clear if Adelstein talked to Taniguchi directly or quoted him from other sources. Many journalists and expats in Japan have accused Adelstein of fabricating sources and quotes, playing loose with the facts, and slandering perceived enemies.)
Adelstein’s Daily Beast report also quoted Taniguchi’s lawyer, without naming him or her. “Mr. Taniguchi wanted to seize any assets Mr. Taylor had and he hired private detectives to follow him. I received a report from the detective agency. There were pictures of Ms. Yoshimatsu’s office and home but no grossly invasive photos.”
Adelstein reported that Taylor “acknowledges” that he owes Taniguchi money after losing a lawsuit to him in 2012. “I have been trying to work out a payment plan with him, but he insisted on taking Ms. Yoshimatsu’s contract over as part of it. I don’t think he understands that I can’t sell her to him like she was a slave — nor would I if I could. We’re in a different age.”
Adelstein did not report these key facts and quotes in his follow-up in the Japan Times about how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife Akie was taking interest in Yoshimatsu’s case.
Yoshimatsu says that the Tokyo-based Miss International company, reacting to Taniguchi’s complaints against her, has asked her to “play sick” and not attend future pageants. She says that Japanese media, other than her hometown newspaper, have ignored her story, under pressure from sponsors.
The FCCJ often holds press conferences for dissenters who feel shunned by Japanese mainstream press.
On Monday, Adelstein led Yoshimatsu into the FCCJ conference room for her own safety.
She sat flanked by Adelstein and her lawyer Norio Nishikawa.
Adelstein has publicly voiced opposition to Japan’s epidemic of stalking and harassment of women. He has repeatedly claimed that gangsters are trying to harass him or kill him.
Adelstein’s critics have disputed his claims. (http://goyamagazine.com/2012/10/02/the-tokyo-vices-of-a-reporter-in-japan/)
Adelstein said her lawyer, Nishikawa, has asked courts for a “provisional order” to stop acts of violence and any form of contact that could bother her in any manner.
Yoshimatsu fought back tears as she spoke in English to about a dozen journalists and several other FCCJ members.
“I do this not for my personal benefit, but to voice my concern and outrage of all Japanese women, that may have been sent to their graves, who could not call for help out of fear of retaliation or being fired from their jobs,” she said.
She said a “culture of silence” toward crimes against women has been “standard for centuries.” “I realize my obligation to speak out on behalf of all women who cannot name their tormentor in public.”
She said that bullying talent agents are “damaging the Japanese entertainment industry and crushing the soul of our country,” resulting in depression, mental illness and suicide of many women.
She said that police files, leaked in 2007, and the US government have both listed a Japanese talent agency, Burning Productions, as having ties to a Japanese crime organization. A spokesman for Burning Productions could not be reached at press time.
Adelstein has accused Burning Productions of links to the Yamaguchi-gumi, allegedly Japan’s largest crime syndicate. Adelstein, translating for both Yoshimatsu and her laywer, often spoke to them and the audience to showcase his knowledge of Japanese law and Japan’s underworld.
Yoshimatsu also accused Taniguchi of using Dentsu, a major advertising agency, and other sponsors to blacklist her from future work in Japanese media.
“Everyone in the industry is aware of K-Dash. Anybody who Googles is aware of what kind of person he is, and how he targets female victims,” she said. “A threatening call from Taniguchi causes immediate cancellation.”
She said that Taniguchi called her father in Kyushu and “demanded” that he force his daughter into agreeing to join his agency.
“If I didn’t, I would wind up like other women who would be found dead,” she said. She said that he mentioned the name of Kawada Ako, a TBS announcer found dead in 2008 by apparent suicide. “He told my Dad: ‘I’m worried about your daughter because your daughter would become like her’.”
Yoshimatsu also claimed that Taniguchi told her father: “It’s too bad you didn’t listen to me. Now I will do whatever I want with your daughter.”
She said Taniguchi has threatened to release “fictitious stories” about her in Japan’s tabloid press. “Mr. Taniguchi made his threat throughout the industry. Clients have told me that they are warned not to work with me.”
She said Taniguchi sent “private investigators” to peep through her windows and take photos of her home and office, and her bodyguard chased one of them away in late September. “He’s a very scary man, with a camera,” she said of one private eye. “I can’t stay in the house by myself.”
Yoshimatsu cried or choked back tears throughout the one-hour press conference, as Adelstein appeared compelled to play the roll of the sensitive, comforting male.
Adelstein is seemingly taking a growing interest in her case, as it matches his Tokyo Vice persona of being an outspoken journalist and defender of women. He moved closer to the distressed beauty queen, as if to comfort her and encourage her to speak out against her alleged tormentors.
Yoshimatsu sought to distance herself from matters. “After I won Miss International title, I felt the need to go independent with other management,” she said. “I have nothing to do with money troubles between Taniguchi and my agent Matt Taylor. I’m just scared as a normal woman. But I have to stand up for women as Miss International Japan.”
“I can understand why women would choose forced suicide as the only way to escape him. It would be irresponsible of me to call on the women of Japan when they are in such fear without first calling on the government of Japan to enact laws that give real protection to women. Japan needs strict laws against those who perpetrate crimes against women.”
“Without protecting the women of Japan, our country will never enjoy the economy and benefits of a truly equal society,” she said. “Even though we may live with fear, we can also live with purpose. I will not play sick. I will not play silent. I will not appease my tormentor.”
She accused Japanese police of having a “cold attitude” toward women who complain of abuse. “I have filed everything to the police about my situation. I told them I don’t want to die.” She said that police only agreed to patrol her area. “I expected they would protect me more strongly. I’m disappointed.”
Fuji TV reported last week that Tokyo police have formed their first ever “stalker investigative squad” of 80 officers to deal with a spate of complaints about stalking and harassment. (http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/tokyo-police-form-first-ever-stalker-investigative-squad)
This reporter has done several articles about smear campaigns and the malicious online hate culture in Japan, involving many on Japologism.com, Japan Probe, Fucked Gaijin and other hateful sites.
Those sites often target this reporter as well as Adelstein.
Adelstein, who has long been active within the press club, presented her with a pass to the FCCJ.
It’s not known if Yoshimatsu came to the FCCJ with a bodyguard. Adelstein, closing the press conference, said he had to accompany her out of the room for “security reasons”.