TOKYO (majirox news) — Shinsuke Shimada, one of the Japanese entertainment world’s most prominent performers, suddenly quit showbiz Aug. 23 after it was revealed he has close ties to an organized crime syndicate, his talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo said.
Shimada hosts several top-rating TV shows including Gyoretsu Dekiru Horitsu Sodan and Nandemo Kanteidan, but he will immediately stand down from all.
The popular performer admitted to his close ties with the yakuza.
“Within myself, I thought what I was doing was safe, but Yoshimoto told me it went against the morals of the entertainment world, so I was too naïve to be aware,” Shimada said upon announcing his retirement. He later added: “I’ve received the worst possible punishment. Please forgive me.”
Yoshimoto said an investigation into Shimada’s affairs showed that he started exchanging e-mail with yakuza associations from about June 2005 and continued through to around June 2007. When Shimada was unable to justify his actions to the company, he opted to retire from showbiz. Shimada said he had been introduced to the yakuza member he exchanged e-mail with more than a decade ago through a mutual acquaintance, and had also met the organized crime syndicate member on four or five occasions in addition to exchanging mail.
Yoshimoto put out a statement saying that Shimada’s ties with the yakuza had not involved any illegal activity and there had been no financial involvement. But the statement added: “Regardless of the reason, it is not permissible for a performer with social influence appearing on TV,” effectively firing the man seen almost nightly on primetime Japanese TV for the better part of the past three decades.