OSAKA (TR) – Talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. on Monday announced the suspension of 11 comedians for participating in a party held by a so-called “anti-social forces” group without prior clearance from the agency, reports TV Asahi (June 24).
According to the agency, the suspended comedians include Hiroyuki Miyasako (49), Ryo Tamura (47), Razor Ramon Hard Gay (43), Yoshinari Fukushima (41), Masashi Kumada (46), Punch Hamasaki (38), Takuhiro Kimura (43), Moody Katsuyama (39), Hiroyuki Yasoshima (35), Hiroshi Tsunemichi (36) and Diego (41).
The gathering, held five years ago, was organized by an anti-social forces group — a euphemism for a criminal syndicate — that carries out fraud. The 11 comedians accepted money to attend, the agency said.
“Even though [the comedians] did not know that the event was hosted by an anti-social group, it is still a very serious matter that they received money,” Yoshimoto Kogyo said.
On June 4, the agency terminated the contract with comedian Shinya Irie, 42, who was found to have organized the payments for the comedians.
Many of the comedians issued public apologies, including Tamura, who is half of the duo London Boots. In the apology to staff members, Yoshimoto Kogyo and other relevant parties, he said that appeared at the event as a member of London Boots. However, he said he did not know the group was participating in fraud.
“During the suspension, I will look inwardly and strive to be a person who will never do this again,” Tamura said.
Weekly tabloid Friday in an issue that went on sale on June 7 broke the story. Since then, public broadcaster NHK has halted programs featuring the comedians.