One of Japan's leading "talents," Shinsuke Shimada, suddenly resigned last night.
The fifty-five year-old MC and comedian was found to have been associating with known mobsters for several years.
The Kyoto native has been a fixture on the small screen for decades. His sharp tongue, bespoke suits, and abrasive wit have made him rich and hugely popular.
In a live interview, which was broadcast on national tv on Tuesday night in Japan, Shimada was contrite and even shed a few tears as he explained that for several years he exchanged mails with and met on occasion a made gangster.
His sentence for this infraction is "retirement" - which if upheld by Yoshimoto Kogyo, the production company at which he is registered - a fate worse than death for the diminuitive and hyper-verbal Shimada.
This is not his first brush with trouble.
In October 2004, Shimada assaulted a Yoshimoto female employee at a television studio. Apparently, the woman did not in both speech and conduct show proper deference.
As a result, he dragged her into a dressing room and beat and spat on her. An Osaka judge fined him 300,000 yen ($3900).
The woman appealed and the Tokyo District Court ordered Shimada and his agency to pay approximately 10 million yen ($130,000) in damages to the woman.
Cynical Prediction: Japan has not seen the last of Shimada.
Short of a drug or murder conviction, Japanese stars invariably come back after they cross the line. It has happened with two of the five members of SMAP and countless others.
After a year or so of sufficient self-reflection and good behavior, he will make a triumphant and tearful return to the "geinokai" (entertainment industry).
He will be warmly embraced and welcomed back, and all will be forgotten. He is a cash cow, an obnoxious one, but Yoshimoto will eventually smell the money and bring back the bad boy of Japanese tv.
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TK16 Master Kendama
Thursday, August 25, 2011