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Shimada's retirement much ado about nothing

18 Comments

“A barefaced lie,” snaps Shukan Gendai (Sept 10) regarding disgraced comedian Shinsuke Shimada’s claim that his admitted ties to yakuza figures were, though indiscreet, essentially innocent.

“Either a lie,” the weekly continues, “or else the man’s perceptions are somewhat crazy.”

The intensity of the attention focused on the unraveling of Shimada’s show business career is a measure of his enormous popularity. He had been hosting six regular TV variety shows, all of which were abruptly cancelled when the scandal surfaced late last month. Coverage of the debacle has been exhaustive to the point of saturation. Perhaps a stricken nation terrorized by spreading radioactivity was simply ripe for distraction.

Much ado about nothing is certainly the way it strikes some insiders, including fellow TV host Tomoaki Ogura, who said, “This was nothing for him to quit over.” Shukan Gendai begs to differ. It quotes an Osaka police source as saying, “He [Ogura] said that because he didn’t know about [Shimada’s] emails.”

The emails in question, some 50 of them, are excerpted by the magazine. They were purportedly written by Shimada beginning in 2005, primarily to former pro boxer Jiro Watanabe, a friend since the 1970s and apparently the link between Shimada and one Hirofumi Hashimoto, a prominent member of the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group who about 10 years ago allegedly helped the comedian “clear up a problem” he had with ultra-nationalists offended by a quip he’d made on one of his shows.

The emails as quoted are nothing if not effusive. They express admiration for Hashimoto, gratitude toward Watanabe, and – what is probably the main point – the writer’s sense of his own weakness and bad character.

One, undated by the magazine, reads, “Lately I met the chairman [Hashimoto] face to face. It was a great relief. I am so happy that he deigns to take notice of me.”

This one is dated June 10 2005: “Thank you so much! I’m grateful. Knowing that I’m protected by you [Watanabe] and the chairman gives me courage!”

Four days later, he wrote, “I’m so dispirited! It’s not good for me to have risen so high. Whatever anyone says to me becomes an excuse to pick a fight.”

And this, undated by the magazine: “I’m weak-spirited, disgusted with myself.”

No doubt he had his troubles, which stardom and wealth partly hid from view. Reportedly something of a juvenile delinquent as an adolescent, he rode a loutish image to the top, and his emails show how uncomfortable and vulnerable he felt there. This surfaced in 2004, when he assaulted a female staff member of his talent agency, Osaka-based Yoshimoto Kogyo. Last year a civil court judge ordered the star and the agency to pay the woman some YY10 million in damages.

Whatever the legal implications of Shimada’s questionable relationships – no charges have been laid – Shimada’s acute sense of his own weakness and of Watanabe’s and Hashimoto’s strength seems a plausible psychological explanation. Yoshimoto Kogyo, while calling Shimada’s associations “unforgivable,” did not dismiss him – he quit, to all appearances, on his own initiative. What the future holds for him is unpredictable, but Shukan Gendai has this to say in closing: “There’s no need to make a sentimental story out of the retirement of an entertainer who harbored longstanding shadowy relationships with the mob.”

© Japan Today

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
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This entire article should be exerpted and used in textbooks and information leaflets across the country to teach and highlight the psychology of bullies.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Whatever the legal implications of Shimada’s questionable relationships – no charges have been laid..."

Because celebrities in this nation get away with murder, more or less, and because the Japanese public often makes heroes of celebrities who bow down, apologize, and in cases like Shimada retire; they forget about the crime and feel sympathy for the criminal as though s/he were the victim of the whole charade. It's pretty sick how many Japanese say they regret Shimada 'retired' (a pre-emptive move to avoid getting fired, as well as to make it seem like he's taking responsibility in order to hopefully avoid further investigation) and feel sorry for him, especially given that he beats women and the majority of his 'humor' comes from belittling others.

3 ( +5 / -3 )

Perfect smithinjapan! thumbs up for you!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's pretty sick how many Japanese say they regret Shimada 'retired'

As many Japanese who have supported Shimada (like Ogura), I've seen and heard much more simply lambaste him. I've met and talked with many more Japanese people who simply despise Shimada and think he is simply a lowlife comedian; who can't even hold a candle to other such as Sanma-san and Beat Takeshi.

Because celebrities in this nation get away with murder, more or less, and because the Japanese public often makes heroes of celebrities who bow down,

Good point. Why does celebrities in every country in the world, including Japan get away with murder. Spoiled brats like that somehow feel entitled to do anything they want, as long as they are famous and have money. Even with this news, Shimada still has his share of fans, just like OJ Simpson has his, who continue to feel he is an innocent man.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As os often the case, smithinjapan's comment is spot on. Shimada is nothing but a weak-kneeded bully, and yet people feel sorry for him. Sad.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Howdy Doody: "As many Japanese who have supported Shimada (like Ogura), I've seen and heard much more simply lambaste him."

To be fair, I have heard a few who don't like him. I guess the people who DO like him are more likely the ones who bring it up, whereas you'd more or less already have to be having a conversation on the topic for those who dislike him to mention it. At least in my experience.

Still, what I said was true. I remember I went to an Avex concert in summer and the guy who committed MASSIVE fraud, Komoro, not only didn't see jail, but the entire audience was shouting 'ganbatte!', etc. when he apologized and bowed on stage for about half a minute. And lest we forget all the 'talento' who are guilty for drug abuse and have audiences outside the court rooms who cheer for them. Heck, some people were even saying we should have sympathy for Ichihashi, and that he's good looking, etc. It's just shocking sometimes how some people will completely ignore the crimes committed by celebrities and instead feel sorry for and even love them more for it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I can't stand people like Shimada, such bullies to everyone else in public and pussies in private.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Shimada has been compared to Jay Leno. This is an insult to Jay Leno.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My impression of American Jay Leno is that his is a true gentleman and one class act. He deserves his top spot as the current king of late night talk shows. Shimada-san can't be compared to Mr. Leno on any level.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My impression of American Jay Leno is that his is a true gentleman and one class act.

Taking pot shots at Britney Spears when she was undergoing pyschiatric meltdown isn't classy. It's like kicking a wounded puppy. Celebrities are fair game for alot of things and even I've joked about Britney here on JT, but he went too far. David Letterman always came across as a gentleman more than Leno did, but he's hardly perfect either. Not excusing Shimada though, he was vile and worse than any of his cross Atlantic contemporaries.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Still, what I said was true.

As what I also said was true too. Illogical forgiving of celebrities happens everywhere. Not only in Japan. There are enough people who idolize and love the "bad chicks" or "bad dudes" who are mean, arrogant, and even criminal. Even Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have their fans. To this day, people in America still idolize Micheal Jackson, even though he had several settlements due to child molestation cases. There are even people who still support and idolize OJ Simpson. As for Shimada, in my university classes, whenever the question in one of the lessons comes up, "Describe a famous person you hate", the number one person my students mention is Shimada (followed closely by Sachiko Nomura and Erika Sawajiri). In fact, he has been the number one hated personality among my university students for the past three years. I guess young Japanese people don't like these kinds of celebrities.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yesterday they introduced his replacement. Forgot what his name was but he is a good friend of Hama and Machan and a very funny character. They shouldve replaced him sooner

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am a Shinsuke fan. I hope he takes up politics. He could do better than Higashikokubaru.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I am a Shinsuke fan. I hope he takes up politics. He could do better than Higashikokubaru.

Well, he is a great talker, and a very wit and quick-minded one too. I have also appreciated his knowledge of things but as many said here he basically based his jokes on humiliating others which is not right. Higashikokubaru, indeed is a complete clown and Shisuke would obviously do better in politics with his shady political games experience, but don't think he would eventually do any good

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am a Shinsuke fan. I hope he takes up politics

bashed a woman - check

links to the mob - check

he could do well +

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whatever the legal implications of Shimada’s questionable relationships – no charges have been laid –

Not yet. I think it not too long before they charge him on his dodgy connections to Yakuza real estate dealings...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Although I agree with the comments, Shukan Gendai isn't exactly the magazine I want preaching to me about ethics in the entertainment industry. I'm sure they have their own fair share of sleazy contacts as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lots of shady people in this world and better to stay away from them, because when you least expect it, well they can come back and black mail you etc..just like they did to Shimada Shinsuke right??

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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