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Apologetic entertainment giant boss retracts punishment over 'antisocial group' scandal

Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. President Akihiko Okamoto wipes away tears during a news conference in Tokyo on July 22, 2019. (Mainichi/Koichiro Tezuka)

TOKYO -- Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. President Akihiko Okamoto announced on July 22 that he would retract his company's termination of its management contract with comedian Hiroyuki Miyasako in connection with his paid appearance at a party for an "antisocial group."

Okamoto's announcement at a news conference in Tokyo came after Miyasako, who belongs to the comedy duo "Ameagari Kesshitai," and Ryo Tamura of comedy pair "London Boots Ichi-go Ni-go," held a news conference of their own, apologizing over the incident and their false explanations.

"I caused them distress and I feel sorry for that," Okamoto said. He added that he wanted to create an opportunity to talk with them.

Okamoto additionally announced that he and Hiroshi Osaki, chairman of Yoshimoto Kogyo Holdings Co., would take 50% pay cuts for one year over the scandal.

The comedians' apology came after a photo of Miyasako accompanying an individual convicted of gold theft was published in the weekly magazine "Friday" on July 19. During their news conference, they divulged that they had wanted to hold a news conference to apologize earlier, but that Yoshimoto Kogyo had not given them the chance.

"I apologize to the two for making them hold such a news conference. I retract their punishment, and would like to arrange a meeting with them."

In the comedians' news conference on July 20, they said that when they spoke to Okamoto he said, "You're not taping this, are you?" and "If you hold a news conference, I'll fire the lot of you for your collective responsibility." Okamoto acknowledged that he made the comment about taping. "I intended it as a joke, but didn't get any laughs."

(Japanese original by Hisanori Yashiro, Cultural News Department)

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