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11 Japanese comedians suspended for appearing at 'antisocial organization' party

Hiroyuki Miyasako (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- Eleven comedians have been suspended from performing on stage or TV for appearing at a party held by an antisocial organization, the talent agency they belong to announced on June 24.

The move will likely force the agency, Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., to reschedule performances at its theaters to remove the comedians. Broadcasters will also likely have to replace their programs in which these performers appear.

The 11 celebrities are Hiroyuki Miyasako, 49; Ryo Tamura, 47; Razor Ramon HG, 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.

Shinya Irie, 42, a member of comedy duo Karateka, was earlier dismissed from the agency for arranging the 11 comedians' appearances at the party without going through the agency.

Miyasako and other comedians admitted they were present at the party but denied that they were organized by an antisocial group. They also claim they never received any money for their appearances.

Yoshimoto initially went no further than reprimanding these 11, but following a subsequent in-house probe, concluded that they had in fact accepted payment. Miyasako and others have admitted having received money.

The scandal has prompted public broadcaster NHK to replace programs in which Ryo Tamura and Razor Ramon HG appear as an interim measure.

However, TV Asahi currently intends to air "Ame Talk," in which Miyasako is due to appear on June 27, as scheduled.

(Japanese original by Yui Masakazu)

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