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Ex-SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi to play Japan's last shogun in NHK's upcoming drama series

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, who will play the role of Tokugawa Yoshinobu in NHK's 2021 historical drama series, is shown in this photo provided by NHK.

TOKYO -- Japan's public broadcaster NHK revealed on July 10 that former J-Pop singer Tsuyoshi Kusanagi will play a major supporting role in the upcoming historical drama series "Seiten wo Tsuke," which centers around the life of a Japanese industrialist that pushed forward economic reforms in the country.

The "taiga drama" set to air in 2021 depicts the life of Eiichi Shibusawa, an industrialist who helped the growth of about 500 companies and was active from the end of the Tokugawa shogunate to the Meiji era (1868-1912). Shibusawa is known as "the father of modern capitalism in Japan." Kusanagi, a former member of the now-disbanded hugely popular group SMAP, will take on the role of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last shogun during the Edo period (1603-1868), who appointed Shibusawa to an important post and had established a lifelong relationship of trust with him.

Other actors in major roles announced on the same day include Kaoru Kobayashi, who will play Shibusawa's father Ichiroemon, Emi Wakui as Shibusawa's mother Ei, Kengo Kora as Shibusawa's cousin Kisaku, Ai Hashimoto as Shibusawa's cousin and later wife, and Shinichi Tsutsumi as Yoshinobu's aide Hiraoka Enshiro.

"Seiten wo Tsuke" is the 60th installation in NHK's historical taiga drama works. Actor Ryo Yoshizawa will play the main role of Eiichi Shibusawa.

Kusanagi released the following comment through NHK: "I feel happy to be able to act alongside the cast members who were announced today. I sensed a lot of energy from the script given to me, and I wish to act out this powerful story while sharpening my senses to create a Tokugawa Yoshinobu that will remain deep in everyone's memory. I believe that the role of Yoshinobu will become a large role for my lifetime as well. I would like to work hard to the best of my ability."

(Japanese original by Yoshiaki Kobayashi, Cultural News Department)

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