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.