Four idols sue company D-topia over unpaid wages; receive threats

On November 14th, it was announced that four members of the idol group Nijiiro Fanfarre were opening a lawsuit against their management company D-topia (owned by former XL member Oonishi Terukado). The seven-member group was formed in July 2015, and members were promised in their contracts a monthly wage of 38,000 yen each (roughly $350). As of September 2017, each member is owed two years’ worth of unpaid wages totaling around 1 million yen (~$9000).

Additionally, when one member expressed her desire to leave the group and move to another management agency, she was allegedly told by the manager “If you try to get back into show business, we will do everything it takes to destroy you.” The five-year contracts contain a clause that forbids former members from activities outside of the label for an additional two years.

D-topia, which is best known for its former artists Aira Mitsuki, Saori@destiny, and Harenchi☆Punch, states in its contract that expenses for dance and vocal lessons would be deducted from the members’ salaries, while one former member told NTV’s News24 “I asked the manager how hard I would have to work to actually get my salary, but he couldn’t answer properly, and was always deliberately vague about it.”

The idols are seeking the full payment of 4.1 million yen and to have their unfair contracts cancelled through the Tokyo District Court, doing so on the basis that the company was unable to keep their side of the agreement by failing to pay them for two years.

One member, who is still in her teens, expressed her fear over the contract, telling a news conference “Even though I quit being an idol, if I can’t cancel the contract I’m worried about how my own freedom is going to be restricted”.

When contacted for comment by the Huffington Post, D-topia would not immediately respond.

This is not the first time accusations of improper conduct have been made about the company, although it is the first time an official complaint has been made. Rumors have been spread that D-topia laid off a number of its in-house music composers some time in 2010, and fans immediately noticed that a number of Aira Mitsuki and Saori@destiny’s songs released after this were directly plagiarized from Western artists.

After its most notable performers left the agency, D-topia rebranded itself several times and now operates its music label under the name STAR inc., which still lists many of its disbanded or retired acts on its company site. The majority of the label’s acts never gave any announcement of retirement, instead simply disappearing while the agency does not publicly acknowledge their departure. Company president Oonishi Terukado no longer participates in the label’s music production and is currently head of the freemium mobile game developer Ganapati Apps.

  • Comments

    • yacchaitai

      I wonder how many artists are stuck with shitty contracts for shady labels for years and disappeared because of it

      • Queen_Of_The_Yokai537

        MANY! Sadly I am sure there are many people as well who never made it and probably are in a crap load of “debt” from these companies if they decide to leave. I shiver at the thought at what some of these people might have to do in order to pay that back :/. It really is a mafia.

    • hasawa

      This kind of story makes me realize how paradoxal a country like Japan praised for its national culture of respect can host such a predatory and cruel industry.

      • DT

        It’s the entertainment industry, there’s always shady stuff going on

    • hasawa

      “Rumors have been spread that D-topia laid off a number of its in-house music composers some time in 2010, and fans immediately noticed that a number of Aira Mitsuki and Saori@destiny’s songs released after this were directly plagiarized from Western artists.”
      This is very intriguing.
      I recall that the turn of the 2010 indeed spelled the end of quite a lot of soloists of the label cited in the article along with a huge drop of quality of their music.
      They all dropped from major status to go back to indies with little to no success, and most of the time a complete washing out of their music : Saoriiiii rebraning with her weird cabaret pop and Aira Mitsuki post-2010 albums have been very ‘meh’. SAWA -although not belonging to this label- followed the same tragic fate.

      I’m a bid sad Terukado left the label (and the music industry ?) cause I LOVED his productions, but he’s definitively been right leaving off the sinking ship.

      • anonymous(e)

        He’s still the president of the label, but isn’t involved in music production any more.
        He’s also on the committee for the “Domestic Monetize Platform association” (http://www.dmpa.or.jp/bp/) – what it does I have no idea, but interestingly, the only companies listed as members of DMPa are ones with Terukado as the president.

    • Smh. I hope they get every penny one day.

    • Midori

      When reading articles like this one, I’m actually glad that I turned down the opportunity to debut with a – now pretty popular – girl group (not idols, though).

      I hope, they will get justice, but I highly doubt it.

    • AoZora

      I am wondering how much Johnny’s is paying for all their idols… Even though many Johnny’s are announced as leads in dramas, they don’t get proportional pay and many a times earn less than support cast… And all those TV performances, are they really paid?

      • Puppy Power!!!

        Johnny Jrs. are frequently photographed taking public transport. It’s probably only the top ones that are paid well

      • yotakabu

        I think i’ve watched in a tv show, a Johnnys said that he got his first salary as soon as he participated to be backdancer on senpai’s concert. They’re pretty much earn as much as work they do.
        Also if the johnnys jrs backdance on new-year concerts, they’ll receive money-gift in an envelope from the senpai too. If i wasn’t wrong KinKi Kids gave like 10.000 yen as otoshidama to Johnnys Jr (Hikaru from Hey! Say! JUMP confirmed this on Shin Domoto Kyodai)

        • AoZora

          Thanks for the info.. But this is mostly kindness of the senpais.. Hope the company on its part pay it’s idols their market price because it makes profits out of concerts… I have heard Yamapi and Kame getting very low pays compared to their costars in the past… Hope the company has improved …

    • Pingback: SKE48 member Akari Suda comments on shady idol agencies in ‘Sunday Japon’ | ARAMA! JAPAN()