Japanese beauty queen barred from ceremony

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese beauty queen said Monday she has been barred from a ceremony where she was to hand over her crown to a successor after she refused to sign with a major talent agency.

Ikumi Yoshimatsu, winner of last year's Miss International contest, has filed a criminal complaint against a top agency executive alleging obstruction of business, stalking, intimidation and extortion. She accused the executive of threatening her life after she formed her own management agency rather than use his.

A teary-eyed Yoshimatsu told reporters Monday that the executive had threatened sponsors and shareholders and she was barred from Tuesday's ceremony in Tokyo.

Eiichi Masunaga, official at the International Culture Association, the beauty contest's operator, confirmed they won't allow her to appear because they don't want media coverage of the controversy to overshadow the event.

"We've asked her to voluntarily refrain from the event," said Masunaga.

Talent agencies have huge influence over the entertainment business in Japan and industry experts say it is common for anyone who rebels against the system to be bullied and threatened.

The executive, Genichi Taniguchi, denied doing anything to Yoshimatsu and said he holds no grudges against her.

He said in a phone interview that he was not aware of the charges against him.