22-year-old actress Fumika Shimizu announced that she will be retiring from acting so she can join the Happy Science religious organization. The announcement came a week after Shimizu went missing, which she claims was due to stress.
A letter was read by a Happy Science spokesperson and lawyer, which states, “I have been working in the business for eight years, but my heart can’t accept some contents in the jobs. I have not been able to live properly, and it has put me in a deep state of depression everyday. So I want to enter the priesthood.”
Shimizu cites unreasonable work hours, low pay (she claims to have only been paid $438 for her role in Kamen Rider Fourze), and being coerced into wearing a swimsuit for a DVD video despite protest.
Shimizu is set to star in three theatrical films this summer, with filming in all three films being finished at the time of her announcement. Her upcoming roles are Touka Kirishima in Tokyo Ghoul, Sayuri Sumikawa in Ankoku Joshi, and Hitomi Takashiro in Warau Manekineko. She won’t be making public appearances to promote the films.
Happy Science is a controversial religious organization, and has been labeled a cult by the Japanese public. The group was founded in 1986 by Ryuho Okawa. Okawa claims to be the incarnation of a supreme spiritual being called El Cantare, and can channel the spirits of Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, and the Prophet Muhammad.
Shimizu was introduced to Happy Science at an early age by her parents, and decided to join the group out of a desire to “believe in things that have never been confirmed or seen.” She says her life has been peaceful after making the decision.
Meanwhile, her agency LesPros Entertainment may claim damages against Shimizu if she refuses to make appointed appearances and take on assigned acting roles. Shimizu is currently under contract with LesPros Entertainment.