TOKYO (TR) – Talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. has announced the termination of the contract of comedian Hiroyuki Miyasako amid the emergence of a photograph showing him with a convicted felon, the latest in what has become a continuing scandal for the agency.
The latest issue of weekly tabloid Friday, which hit newsstands on Friday, shows a photograph of Miyasako, 49, in attendance with four other men at a restaurant in Osaka City in 2016.
One of the four men was convicted of carrying out the theft of 760 million yen in gold near JR Hakata Station in Fukuoka City in July, 2016. The ruling is under appeal.
In a statement released on Friday, Yoshimoto Kogyo said that it had “taken into account various circumstances” in dismissing Miyasako, who is one half of the duo Ameagari Kesshitai.
The scandal emerged in June, when the agency revealed that 13 comedians, including Miyasako, Ryo Tamura, 47, and Razor Ramon Hard Gay, 43, had been suspended for attending a gathering organized by a fraud ring and a birthday party organized by a criminal syndicate.
Many of the comedians later issued public apologies, with all of them saying they were not aware the parties were hosted by such groups.
Also in June, the agency terminated the contract with comedian Shinya Irie, 42, who was found to have organized payments for the comedians.
At first, Miyasako denied receiving money to appear at the gathering he attended. However, he later admitted to having been paid, a sum later revealed to have been 1 million yen.
At a press conference on Saturday, Miyasako apologized. “This disturbance originated through my rash, thoughtless lies to protect myself,” he said. “I take full responsibility for what happened. I am really sorry.”
Miyasako at one point reportedly planned to retire. However, he denied that to be the case at the press conference.
The agency announced on its web site on July 13 the compensation accepted by the comedians to attend the events, with the 1 million yen received by Miyasako topping the list.
The day before, Hiroshi Osaki, the chairman of Yoshimoto Kogyo, told the Mainichi Shimbun that the agency will require comedians to sign letters stating that they have no ties to so-called “anti-social forces” groups, a euphemism for a criminal syndicate.