The president of major Japanese entertainment conglomerate Yoshimoto Kogyo said this week that he hoped disgraced TV comedian Shinsuke Shimada will make a return to show business.
“I believe he will come back to the entertainment world some day,” Hiroshi Osaki said of Shimada, who announced his retirement last August after it was revealed that he had corresponding with members of a crime syndicate.
Osaki made the comments at the 100th anniversary celebration of Yoshimoto Kogyo, founded in Shimada’s native Kansai. Osaki told reporters, “We owe a lot to his talent. We hope everyone will forgive his transgressions. This is how we all feel [at Yoshimoto Kogyo].”
Shimada and his supporters have been maintaining that his contact with organized crime was nothing more than occasional innocent cell phone e-mails. Osaki also remarked that many other famous comedians of Shimada’s era thought it a waste for Shimada to quit.
Shimada has stayed out of sight since he shocked the entertainment world with his retirement. At the time, he commented, “I didn’t think that I was doing anything wrong. Personally I thought it was fine, but I found out that it was considered unacceptable.”
Subsequently, Yoshimoto Kogyo released a statement saying that Shimada’s ties with the yakuza had not involved any illegal activity and there was no evidence of financial involvement. But the statement added: “Regardless of the reason, it is not permissible for a performer who exerts such a strong social influence on mainstream TV to have these ties.”
Shimada himself has been in trouble before, after a female employee tried to speak to him without showing the proper deference in 2004. Shimada allegedly locked the woman in a room, beat her and spat on her for her perceived insolence. Shimada admitted the charge, was fined an estimated 10 million yen and was put on a 2-month probation. It is one of several assault cases in which Shimada has been embroiled.