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Japanese comedian Tokui apologizes over $1 million in unreported income

Yoshimi Tokui, center, a comedian with the Japanese comedy duo "Tutorial," is seen apologizing at a press conference in Osaka's Chuo Ward on Oct. 23, 2019. (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

OSAKA -- Yoshimi Tokui of the famous Japanese comedy duo "Tutorial" apologized at a press conference on Oct. 23 for not reporting his one-person company's income totaling over 100 million yen ($1 million) over three years.

"I sincerely apologize for not being able to pay the appropriate tax due to my sloppiness and neglectfulness, causing great inconvenience to citizens who are properly paying tax. I'm truly sorry," said 44-year-old Tokui as he lowered his head.

According to his employer Yoshimoto Kogyo Holdings Co., the National Tax Agency (NTA) pointed out that his company "Tulip," which the comedian established in 2009, had withheld some 118 million yen in income from 2016 to 2018. Furthermore, roughly 20 million yen in travel expenses and other fees that Tokui included in company expenses between 2012 and 2015 were regarded as concealed income.

Some 34 million yen of additional tax was imposed on Tokui as a penalty. He said he has already filed an amended tax return.

Comedian Yoshimi Tokui of the Japanese comedy duo "Tutorial," is seen speaking at a press conference in Osaka's Chuo Ward on Oct. 23, 2019. (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

Tokui appeared in front of the press in a gray business suit shortly after 11 p.m. at the headquarters of the talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo in Osaka's Chuo Ward in western Japan, after recording a TV show for Asahi Broadcasting Corp. in Osaka's Fukushima Ward.

"The part of me that is sloppy and careless, on a level that is unthinkable for an ordinary member of society, withheld income for three years," he stated. Tokui explained that he never intended to conceal his earnings, and said he would "raise the bar when making a decision" on whether to include certain payments as company expenses.

The comedian said a tax accountant notified him that he needed to declare Tulip's income when filing a financial statement. "I said I would do it, but I kept on putting it off, though I had the intention to pay the tax. Due to my unimaginable sloppiness, a day passed and then a week, then a month and now three years."

Tokui said he finally realized how serious the matter was, and that he "was doing something unacceptable as a member of society" when he received a notification from the NTA in December last year.

On travel fees and other expenses regarded as concealed income, the 44-year-old explained, "Because it's my job as a comedian to go about and find materials to base my scripts on, I may have handed over receipts to my tax accountant with the perception that traveling was also part of my job."

Tokui indicated his desire to stay in the entertainment industry, stating, "This is my only job, so I wish to keep on working as a comedian, but I believe it's up to the rest of the public and those who offer me work to decide."

(Japanese original by Muru Yamada, Osaka Cultural News Department)

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