Maki Nishiyama driven into retirement; wants out of 13-year “slave contract”

Weekly gossip magazine Jisin Japan reports in an interview that actor and model Maki Nishiyama is in a legal battle with her agency to get out of a 13-year slave contract that is forcing her into a premature retirement.

I haven’t received any of my salary since February,” says a tearful Nishiyama in the interview.

Something strange started to happen,” Nishiyama noted. “Last year, after giving birth to my second child, people from TV and magazine agencies contacted me directly saying, ‘I haven’t been able to get in contact with your office to book you for work.’

Even when I’ve made offers to work with Ms. Nishiyama, no one from her management answers the phone. It seems like the office is defunct. I heard that Kotaro Ikeda, the president of [her company] MandB, is in a lot of debt,” claims an advertising agency official.

Nishiyama hasn’t worked since May 1st. At the end of the day, the manager she had been with for 11 years told her he was resigning. In fact, there has been an apparent “distrust” towards the agency and he was close to quitting for years.

About rumors within the company:

“It’s true that the office discovered me and jump started my career, and for that, I feel as if I am indebted to them. However, I finally realized that what I’m experiencing is not normal. That past three or four times I’ve tried to quit, I’ve found out from other people that the president had been spreading rumors that I ‘wanted a lot of money’ or that my ‘parents need money.’

About her salary being halved after becoming pregnant and the president told her to get an abortion:

The amount of salary that I’ve received has not increased for 13 years, after debuting at 19 years old. Still, I’m able to live and feel strong in my decision,” Nishiyama admits. “When I was pregnant with my second child last year when suddenly the president halved my salary. When I e-mailed him, I asked, ‘Is it just for this month?’ and he responded ‘When you schedule an abortion, please let me know.’ From there, I knew I couldn’t put up with it any longer.

In November of last year, Nishiyama had her lawyer send a document cancelling her contract with her agency. Shortly after, Ikeda responded and the two parties have been in contact.

When Jisin Japan called Ikeda on his cellphone, he picked up:

“Are you still interviewing Nishiyama? Anyway, it doesn’t matter what you write since it’s coming from a Weekly Newspaper…. Let her know that I plan to thoroughly fight back. One of the managers was embezzling 35 million yen which I have reported to the police. If said manager hadn’t been dealing with the mob, she might have been paid more. Time permitting, I don’t mind explaining everything properly for your next issue.”

Regardless, Nishiyama won’t back down.

At any rate, there’s nothing I’d love more than to continue working,” Nishiyama confesses. “I want to! I really do! But I don’t know how long it will take me to return. I don’t require any expensive fees. I will overcome this, starting from scratch. As a woman from Niigata, I won’t let this discourage me.

Earlier today, Nishiyama took to her Instagram and apologized for bringing this drama to the public, which somewhat confirms that the interview detailed above holds some weight.

  • Comments

    • Taima-kun

      POS president
      i pray that Maki wins this

    • Guest

      Without her, her agency is more screwed than she is considering she is literally the only successful act they have signed

      This story is so fishy though, from both sides. Like, in what planet would a successful model who is literally the whole reason an agency makes any money (at least thru legal means) would receive the same salary for over a decade. It is hard to believe, even in the crazy Japanese showbiz world.

      • ProllyWild

        Contracts often auto-renew unless either party brings up the idea of ending it or altering the agreement. If she had no one on her side to renegotiate the terms of her original contract, she likely just ended up letting the contract automatically renew each time.

        • Guest

          I mean, yea, but as I said before, she is literally the only star in the agency. The only one. All money they make is due to her. And it’s not like she had shortage of jobs throughout her career. So that definitely does gives her A LOT of leverage, even in the (unfair) Japanese agency world. I still can’t find a logical reason for her to never renegotiate her contract. Was she dumb? Naive? Was the agency some front for some Yakuza business? Did the agency pay her rent and bills? Like, the story that is being told makes no sense.

          Also, she has a long career, was the cover model of successful fashion magazines and have a decent following. Are we supposed to believe she lived and raised two kids with a working class wage? She was a successful model in a big fashion magazine but lived a lower class lifestyle in the outskirts of Tokyo? Like, c’mon, a 19 year newcomer model probably doesn’t make much more than a living wage. Was she really living like that?

          • ProllyWild

            First thing you have to do is adjust your image of what a salary is for entertainers. From what I understand, there are three types of income that entertainers get. One is a base salary from their agency which is normally very close to minimum wage. The second is performance fees for events, tv. Etc.. The third is royalties.

            I don’t recall many cases of people ever changing the base salary they receive from their management, but many do negotiate the percentage of how much they take away for performance fees and royalties on products like CDs, DVDs, books etc. Most times starting out entertainers get very little of royalties and management tend to be the rights owners of the products. Management would also take a cut of the performance fees as well but how much they take is anyone’s guess. Depends on the management’s business culture.

            My pretty much baseless assumption (since we have so little to work with here) is that she probably never renegotiated a high cut of performance fees and royalties perhaps because it was just difficult to do. Conflict is not something people like to engage around japan. Unless the management offered a higher cut, an entertainer would likely need to request it and perhaps bring in a lawyer to negotiate the matter which could be seen as a bit hostile.

            What it sounds like right now, is that mangamgent group has some financial issues and perhaps overspent the money and/or acquired debt elsewhere. Payments for performance fees and royalties from events are not immediate. They can take months to be paid out from eventors and tv companies and businesses because japan is slow to do accounting in all business. I’m guessing the management spent money it didn’t have and can no longer pay her the cut of performance fees and royalties owed for the jobs she did way back. If they cut her base salary too, then really they are probably just dried the hell up and she’s really screwed.

            Weird thing is, most decent contracts should have a clause that allow her to end the agreement should it ever get to this point. It won’t stop management bashing her and blaming her, but she should be able to have legal leverage to get out and then eventually seek money owed to her later.

        • Guest

          Like, I am pretty sure the agency is a fucking mess as all Japanese agencies are and they probably had an unfair contract but it just doesn’t seem like we’re getting the full story/she is telling the whole truth.

    • Matcha

      Hope she wins, but who am I kidding, Japan hates woman!

    • Summersplash

      OT But is there new Tegoshi scandal?

    • rshina

      I’m not sure who is right or wrong, but I hope she gets what she deserve

    • SlyMoonFox

      That sucks. I hope justice wins!

    • iGleaux

      Woooowwww… I wish her luck and much success!

    • WorldGN18

      This is really messed up, don’t really sure what to think, I mean why didn’t she break free before, when she already gained popularity?