Entertainment giant Yoshimoto Kogyo cancels penalties for scandal-hit comedians


Akihiko Okamoto, president of major entertainment company Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., said Monday that his company will withdraw punishments it had set out for some of its comedians who received money for appearing at an event attended by members of an alleged crime group.

The comedians in question include Hiroyuki Miyasako, a member of popular comedy duo Ameagari Kesshitai, whose contract was terminated by the Osaka-based company last week over the scandal.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Okamoto also said he and Yoshimoto Kogyo Chairman Hiroshi Osaki will return 50 percent of their salaries for one year to accept responsibility for the scandal.

The development came after Miyasako and Ryo Tamura, of comedy duo London Boots Ichi-go Ni-go, who has been suspended, held a news conference Saturday and offered an apology to fans and others for performing at the group’s event in exchange for money without consulting Yoshimoto Kogyo.

During Saturday’s news conference, Miyasako, 49, and Tamura, 47, expressed distrust toward Yoshimoto Kogyo, saying they had been told by the company not to hold a news conference about the scandal.

At Monday’s news conference, Okamoto said he was sorry for causing hardship to the two comedians. “We’ll offer the maximum support if they want to come back (to the company),” he said.

At Saturday’s news conference, Miyasako also claimed he had been told by Okamoto that all the comedians involved would be fired if he talked to the press about the scandal.

Referring to the claim, Okamoto said Monday that he had become emotional due to a lack of smooth progress in his talks with the two comedians, adding that he has regrets over the issue.

In late June, Yoshimoto Kogyo suspended 11 comedians, including Miyasako and Tamura, for taking part in the event without the approval of the company. The company announced on July 13 that Miyasako and Tamura had received ¥1 million and ¥500,000, respectively, from the group.

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