Financial Concerns Drive Rush Towards Independence of Kuroki Haru, Tanaka Tetsushi, and Tabe Mikako | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Financial Concerns Drive Rush Towards Independence of Kuroki Haru, Tanaka Tetsushi, and Tabe Mikako

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Tetsushi Tanaka (left), Hana Kuroki (middle), and Mikako Tabe (right) announced their independence one after another.

It is not particularly unusual for a celebrity to leave his or her agency and go independent or transfer to another agency. Every year, someone, famous or not, goes independent or transfers to another agency.

In April, it was announced that actors Kuranosuke Sasaki and Ryuta Sato, both members of the entertainment production company K-Factory, had left the company after their “contracts expired.


Furthermore, at the end of March, actress Tabe Mikako also left the agency she had been with for about 20 years, “Hirata International,” and established her own personal agency. In addition, big-name actors like Kuroki Haru, Tanaka Tetsushi, and Nagatsuka Keishi have announced their departure from their agencies one after another.

Especially, there doesn’t seem to be any talk about deteriorating relationships with the agencies or getting into trouble. It appears that all of them are leaving their agencies on good terms. But why are there so many departures and independent ventures happening now? A senior executive from a major entertainment agency shared some earnest reasons.

“If the contract has expired and both parties are satisfied, it can be considered an amicable departure. However, in cases where everything seemed to be going smoothly until then but the actor decides to leave, it’s safe to say that there were some grievances. This could be related to interpersonal relationships, but money, in other words, compensation, is likely the main factor.”

When it comes to compensation, there are differences in the rules of each agency and between individual talents, broadly divided into salary-based or commission-based. However, in the case of commission-based, the ratio of the share is not fixed.

“Some agencies take 50%, while others take 70%. There are also other expenses such as staff and manager salaries, maintenance costs for dedicated cars, and if the agency covers the talent’s living expenses, the ratio needs to account for these. Additionally, there are expenses for sales activities such as entertainment expenses for pitching to TV stations. These are what we call management fees. Various costs incurred during the training period, such as lesson fees for newcomers, also need to be recovered.” (TV magazine writer)

However, for veteran popular actors, there is no need for lesson fees, and job offers come even without active sales efforts. Moreover,

“In the past, it was a relationship where TV stations would request appearances from major talent agencies. Now, with many talented young actors emerging, TV stations no longer need to rely on major agencies and are increasingly using opportunities to pitch from smaller agencies or freelance actors.

Even if you belong to a major agency, you may not receive the kind of sales efforts you desire as an actor. In that case, it might be better to be independent and actively pursue sales yourself. It’s a natural progression that popular actors feel this way.” (Commercial TV station employee)

It seems that from the actor’s perspective, there may not be a need to belong to an agency if they are taking a margin. So, what are the benefits of being affiliated with a talent agency in today’s era?

“The biggest advantage is that they protect you. In other words, it’s about dealing with extreme fans and the media. It’s troublesome and limited to handle it individually. Next is the advance payment of penalty fees. If you cause any misconduct and are forced to withdraw from dramas, programs, or commercials, you will be required to pay a penalty fee. It’s not just about returning the appearance fee; damages may also be claimed, and recently, it’s not uncommon for the amount to reach hundreds of millions.


These are amounts that individuals cannot afford. In that case, the agency can advance the payment, and the talent can repay it in installments, or in some cases, they may not have to repay it at all, or they may get a discount, which hasn’t changed since the past.” (Same executive as before)


In the unpredictable entertainment industry, veteran actors who consider that they have no worries about causing misconduct likely perceive that there are no advantages to being affiliated with an agency. So, can agencies prevent talents from becoming independent? While there have been cases where talents became independent before the end of their contracts and it led to trouble,


“The only way is to build a solid trust relationship with talents, so that they think, ‘I want to stay with this agency,’ ‘I only want to work with this manager.’ The position of agencies has greatly weakened compared to the past.” (Same executive as before)


He added with a wry smile. It’s likely that the number of talents becoming independent will continue to increase, and the crisis of the disappearance of talent agencies is right here and now.

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In November 2018, near Naka-Meguro Station, this magazine spotted Kuroki (left) and Yoshida. Perhaps they had already been drinking somewhere, as Kuroki’s cheeks were slightly flushed. (November 30, 2018 issue)
Tanaka walking through the crowd. Even his glasses and mask could not hide his aura (January 2021).
Drama “My Family” (TBS) starring Kazuya Ninomiya and Mirei Kiritani as a married couple (April 1-8, 2022 issue).
  • PHOTO Keisuke Nishi (Tetsushi Tanaka), Kojiro Yamada (Hana Kuroki), Yusuke Kondo (Mikako Tabe)

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