Foreign talent feeling gypped by top agency

Inagawa Motoko Office, one of the largest and oldest show business agencies catering to foreign performers in Japan, recently came under fire from some of its registered artists for not paying them in a timely manner for work they have done.

In recent interviews with The Japan Times, 10 people registered with IMO said those who do not ask the agency for money multiple times have no chance of getting paid, and there are many foreigners who have gone home unpaid.

All of the 10, five of whom asked not to be named because they don’t want to upset the agency, said they are registered with several other agencies but have no similar problems with them.

IMO is not violating any written contracts because the people it uses do not sign one that stipulates the timing of payment before each job, which range from ¥10,000 to ¥50,000 for a few hours of work or a full day.

Industry experts say there may be other agencies with similar delinquent payment practices, because many agencies are not well known. But the normal practice is to tell artists what they will earn in advance and to pay wages on time.

Louis Carlet of Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union recommended that foreign artists unionize.

“If they unionize, they have collective bargaining power. They will have more strength,” he said, adding that even one person can join his union.