National / Crime & Legal

Japanese comedians pocketed up to ¥1 million from secret show for alleged crime group, Yoshimoto Kogyo says

Kyodo

Thirteen comedians who recently took flak for secretly performing at a party hosted by a purported crime group received between ¥1 million and tens of thousands of yen in remuneration, their agent said Saturday.

The largest sum, ¥1 million, was paid to Hiroyuki Miyasako, while Ryo Tamura received ¥500,000, Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. said. The remaining 11 entertainers received less than ¥100,000 each.

The entertainment powerhouse indefinitely suspended the 13 in late June after celebrity gossip magazine Friday ran a story saying the comedians, without their agent’s consent, performed at a party organized by a group that was involved in a major scam that targeted the elderly in December 2014.

The group is believed to have swindled its victims out of more than ¥4 billion through telephone calls, the magazine said.

Yoshimoto Kogyo said none of the 13 comedians reported the remunerations in their tax returns and they all recently amended their reports to tax authorities.

The company also donated ¥3 million to two nonprofit groups advocating consumer protection, it said.

The agency, which manages some 6,000 people in show business, will require all talent to report any requests for performances that are received directly.

It plans to exchange documents with its clients to this effect by the end of July, it said.

The scandal took place eight years after Shinsuke Shimada, one of the country’s highest-paid TV show hosts who is also managed by Yoshimoto Kogyo, retired from the entertainment industry in August 2011 due to his close ties with a yakuza.

Comedians are fixtures on Japanese TV programs, with many regularly appearing on variety shows and other programs as performers and presenters.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5