People | 20 QUESTIONS

Matthew Ireton: 'Continuation is the key to success'

Staff Writer

Name: Matthew Ireton
Age: 30
Nationality: American
Occupation: Radio/TV show host, actor, producer for Ireton Entertainment


1. What first brought you to Japan? My father is an American-Japanese hāfu who was born and raised in Tokyo. My parents were living in Los Angeles when I came into the world, and then we moved back to Japan. I was still in diapers.

2. What’s keeping you here? Ramen, nattō (fermented soybeans), shabu-shabu (hot pot cooking) and … work, which isn’t really work because I enjoy it so much.

3. Name the person in Japan you admire the most? Renowned singer and jidaigeki (period drama) actor Ryotaro Sugi. He has also been involved in charitable activities for over 55 years, visiting prisons and supporting foster children in Vietnam.

4. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? “継続は力なり (Keizoku wa chikara nari). My calligraphy teacher kept repeating this phrase when I was a child, and now it’s part of my permanent consciousness. It means something to the effect that “continuation is the key to success.”

5. What’s your favorite phrase in any language? In today’s selfie world, this rings true: “If you like the way you look that much, you should go and love yourself.” Did I just quote Justin Bieber?

6. What’s the most exciting/outrageous thing you have ever done? A month and a half trip from Kagoshima to Hokkaido using local trains, while playing the ukulele, researching local history and spending nights in homes of people I met along the way.

7. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? “Please keep your face still and shout like you’re dying!” My character was poisoned in the movie “Black Butler.”

8. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be? My grandfather, Glenn Ireton, who passed on before I was born. I want to hear stories from his show business career, which included playing saxophone in New York during the Great Depression and handling publicity for clients such as Tommy Dorsey. All this before flying to Tokyo on a propeller plane via Hawaii, Wake and Guam to take up a civilian job for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s GHQ, promoting “the American way” through the medium of movies.

9. You were part of an all-male a cappella group during college. What is the most difficult thing about performing in a group? Focusing. After long hours of practice, we had unique ways of changing the groove … like singing shirtless.

10. We believe you’re also handy with a calligraphy brush. What Chinese character do you enjoy writing? “動” (, meaning “motion”) — gotta keep moving.

11. You hosted Fox Japan’s “Fox Backstage Pass” with Gow and Ryohei Suzuki. Any memorable moments? Traveling to Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture to cover a charity live performance for the victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

12. You are now producing a new radio show called “Zappa” on J-Wave, appearing on the program from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday each week. Please tell us a little about the show. It’s early! But the music really gets me going and I hope it does so with listeners as well.

13. What’s your secret to waking up so early each day? Any tips? Back when it was Monday to Thursday for a year and I had to wake up at 2:30 a.m., I had insane routines for preventing myself from sleeping in … like laying out four days of wardrobe choices on Sunday evening and setting three alarm clocks.

14. How do you select the music for the show each day? By listening to literally hundreds of songs — new and old — over the weekend using apps. I pick the 15 best ones for each show.

15. What song best describes your work ethic? “Yamabiko” by NakamuraEmi and Lukas Graham’s “Seven Years.” These are songs that honestly portray the ups and downs of people nearing 30.

16. Any memorable guests on the show? I had friends abroad appear on my show by phone at momentous times in world history. One was at the Gay Pride Parade in New York following the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriages in the U.S. I called another friend in Paris a couple of days after the November 2015 Paris attacks.

17. Do you find producing a radio program easier than appearing on TV or on stage? I do find it easier — only because I don’t have to show my face, which usually looks like a panda early in the morning.

18. Who would win a fight between a lion and tiger? A tiger. I was born in 1986 — the Year of the Fire Tiger. It’s a furious, self-assured and dominant tiger that appears on the Chinese Zodiac calendar only once every 60 years.

19. What do you want to do when you grow up? My grandfather introduced American entertainment to Japan through movies. I think I want to do something in the other direction, presenting Japanese creativity, entertainment and culture to the world.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Go out of your comfort zone. Study history. Be kind to people.

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