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One would have to be a hermit, literally shut off from all media, to avoid exposure in Japan to the comedians and other entertainers managed by Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., the nation’s oldest and arguably most powerful entertainment agency.

Besides appearing on the numerous television variety and comedy shows and radio programs that dominate the airwaves, Yoshimoto’s comedians publish best-selling novels and essays, record hit music albums and even direct films that in some cases win international recognition.

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