National

Kuwata says sorry for New Year's shows, denies political intent

Staff Report

Southern All Stars vocalist Keisuke Kuwata, leader of the legendary pop rock band, offered an apology Thursday for performances at the end of last year that were widely taken as a swipe at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a joint statement, Kuwata and his talent agency Amuse Inc. said his four shows at Yokohama Arena on Dec. 27, 28, 30 and 31 were intended to send out messages of peace and never meant to convey his political opinions.

“Given the various worries here and there, Kuwata expressed his pure desire for peace,” the statement said.

Abe was in the audience on Dec. 28 when Kuwata suddenly changed the lyrics of the politically sarcastic 1998 tune “Bakusho Airando” (“Island that Draws a Belly Laugh”), stunning the prime minister as he was grooving to the music.

“(A politician) talking nonsense like dissolving the Diet!” Kuwata shouted in a clear swipe at Abe, who had dissolved the Lower House just weeks before for a snap election to punish the opposition parties for digging up scandals that cost him two new Cabinet ministers.

He easily won the election, which set a new record low for turnout.

Kuwata also touched on his appearance on NHK’s annual “Kohaku Utagassen” (“Red and White Song Contest”) on Dec. 31, when he wore a fake Hitler mustache while singing “Peace and Hi-Lite.” Kuwata’s segment was aired from Yokohama Arena.

The joint statement said the mustache was to “entertain the audience and had no meaning beyond that.”

Meanwhile, Kuwata apologized about his “lack of consideration” in handling the Medal with Purple Ribbon he received from the Emperor last autumn for his achievements in the music industry.

During one of his year-end shows, Kuwata gestured to the audience as if he were auctioning the medal off, an act that later drew criticism, according to the statement.

Kuwata meant to express his gratitude for the award, but the way in which he did it was inappropriate, the statement said.

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