Last August, comedian and TV emcee Shinsuke Shimada retired from show business following allegations that he’d been palling around with an underworld figure. His withdrawal came on the eve of the implementation of a well-publicized police crackdown on organizations that work with antisocial elements, such as the yakuza. The media presumed that Shimada had been forced to retire by his management, the powerful Osaka-based production company Yoshimoto Kogyo, which didn’t want the authorities scrutinizing its business.

On Jan. 4, during a press conference to celebrate Yoshimoto’s 100th anniversary, president Hiroshi Osaki said that he hoped Shimada would “come back to the entertainment world someday.” It was the first time anyone from the company had mentioned Shimada’s rehabilitation, leading reporters to wonder whether Osaki’s remark was off-the-cuff.

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