Beauty queen barred amid talent agency flap


Beauty queen Ikumi Yoshimatsu says she was barred from the ceremony where she was to hand over the crown to her successor after she refused to sign with a major talent agency.

Yoshimatsu, winner of last year’s Miss International contest, has filed a criminal complaint against a top agency executive alleging obstruction of business, stalking, intimidation and extortion. She accused the executive of threatening her life after she formed her own management agency rather than use his.

A teary-eyed Yoshimatsu told reporters Monday that the executive had threatened sponsors and shareholders and she was barred from Tuesday’s ceremony in Tokyo.

Eiichi Masunaga, official at the International Culture Association, the beauty contest’s operator, confirmed they wouldn’t allow her to appear because they didn’t want media coverage of the controversy to overshadow the event.

“We’ve asked her to voluntarily refrain from the event,” Masunaga said.

Talent agencies have huge influence over the entertainment business and industry experts say it is common for anyone who rebels against the system to be bullied and threatened.

The executive, Genichi Taniguchi, has denied doing anything to Yoshimatsu and said he holds no grudges against her.

He claimed in a phone interview that he was not aware of the charges against him.