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Kawamata’s kamikaze attack

By Zach Arnold | April 10, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

By no means is the end-all, be-all translation summary of the latest Shukan Gendai interview with Seiya Kawamata about the yakuza scandal rocking the fight industry in Japan. However, I was able to translate and gather some interesting details from the latest interview that really have people on edge.

In the latest interview, Kawamata puts the bullseye on K-1, PRIDE, various yakuza groups, and also on the Kanagawa Police (who are doing the yakuza investigation). Also mentioned throughout the interview is Miro Mijatovic, the ex-manager (power agent/attorney) of Mirko Cro Cop and Emelianenko Fedor.


Image scan credit: Mainichi Daily News

The front cover of this week’s magazine has (on the right side) in red lettering: Nippon TV, Inoki Matsuri producer speaks, Mister K-1 – Ishii is threatened by a crime syndicate. The cover page has a picture of Ishii behind a microphone in the ring at a past K-1 show. There is a brief introduction of Seiya Kawamata and the New Year’s Eve war in 2003. The date of 12/12 is mentioned as important in relations to events. Kawamata’s main yakuza guy, Mr. Sakamoto, is mentioned in a story about a disco in Roppongi, Tokyo.

The focus of the article turns onto the alleged threats that DSE and their yakuza backers inflicted on K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii. Kawamata claims that the first major yakuza threat came when K-1 announced Royce Gracie working on their Dynamite 2004 show at the Osaka Dome (Royce vs. Akebono). Kawamata specifically talks about some of the details of this yakuza meeting between Ishizaka (the backer of PRIDE) and Ishii. PRIDE was very upset about Royce working the K-1 show, and there was supposedly a two-pronged attack. In public, Sakakibara threatened legal action against Royce Gracie in America for violating a contract. Gendai claims that this meeting between Ishii and Ishizaka was video-taped by the Kanagawa police. When the magazine contacted K-1 for an answer, the company responded that Kawamata was telling the truth.

Supposedly, a second yakuza threat against Ishii came when he & Akira Maeda launched HEROs. The yakuza that (according to the magazine) threatened Ishii was different yakuza from the same group backing DSE. The publication (and Kawamata) claim that the yakuza came to FEG’s office and threatened staff members to produce Kazuyoshi Ishii for a meeting. Ishii meet with the yakuza and the yakuza accused Ishii of stealing DSE fighters (like Heath Herring) for HEROs. Ishii responded that it was DSE who first started raiding talent, such as Masaaki Satake & Mirko Cro Cop from K-1. The magazine claims that the Kanagawa police have this meeting on video-tape as well. FEG & K-1 confirmed that they are submitting a criminal complain with the Tokyo metropolitan police against DSE and their yakuza for these actions.

Kawamata alleges that after these yakuza meetings, Kunio Kiyohara (Fuji TV producer) had a meeting with Ishii and asked him to cooperate with Sakakibara for the 2005 New Year’s Eve show. Ishii refused and told Kiyohara, why should he cooperate? The magazine says that Kiyohara’s response was: “Well, if you would work together with us, you wouldn’t have any more of these sorts of problems.”

The magazine shows a graphical flowchart about the 2003 New Year’s Eve wars (K-1, Inoki, and PRIDE). The flowchart shows who was backing what events and what the yakuza connections were.

The publication talks about the arrest of Sakamoto and his two understudies on 2/23 and their release by police on 3/16. Kawamata said that he believes there is corruption in the Kanagawa Police department. He makes his claim by stating that the police had Ishizaka under police watch, but that he escaped from police surveillance due to a leak from the cops. Kawamata says that the actions of the Kanagawa police department have put his life in danger.

In the most detailed part of the interview, Kawamata talks about the alleged threats that Miro Mijatovic received from DSE’s yakuza on 1/3/2004 & 1/4/2004 at the Westin Hotel. This meeting with Mijatovic took place after the supposed meeting on 1/2/2004 in Shizuoka at a restaurant between Kawamata and his ex-yakuza stable (Sakamoto and the two understudies). Kawamata describes the details of the two-day process in which he claims that Sakakibara and Ishizaka of DSE threatened Mijatovic to immediately release the management rights to Emelianenko Fedor or else be killed. The claim is made that Sakamoto made a pistol sign at Mijatovic and motion to pull the trigger.

In response to the latest interview, Fuji TV’s PR department said that “it has no relations to the contracts between DSE and its fighters.” The PR department complained that Shukan Gendai is involved in a negative media campaign and is creating a false image with its readers about Fuji TV.

Finishing out the article, Kawamata confirms that Nippon TV producer Shuji Miyamoto knew all about the yakuza movements in the background, because Miyamoto was with Kawamata all the time (starting on 12/21/2003). Kawamata claims that he had a nervous breakdown/collapse and that Miyamoto took him to the hospital, and even stayed in his hotel room. He also claims that Miyamoto admitted that he knew about the yakuza situation in his witness testimony in the civil case in Tokyo district court between Kawamata and Nippon TV.

What this all means

K-1 is now fully drawn into the yakuza scandal. Both the good and the bad. On the bad side because of Kawamata claiming that he got into the business as Ishii’s yakuza fixer to threaten fight managers (Ernesto Hoost’s management). On the good side because of the claims about DSE’s yakuza threatening Ishii over using Royce on the Dynamite 2004 show and also for creating HEROs. K-1 does confirm that they want to file a criminal complaint for threats made to Ishii and FEG, but since K-1 is also linked to the yakuza by Gendai, it is not certain if the police will accept the merits of their criminal complaint.

Kawamata states that Fuji TV’s producer Kunio Kiyohara and Nippon TV producer Shuji Miyamoto had full knowledge of all yakuza activities, and is blaming the TV networks for allowing this situation with the yakuza to exist.

Mr. Sakakibara of DSE has been quiet about many of the charges leveled against him in the publication. His only public statements have been related to wanting to get Bushido onto prime-time television and finding the right TV home for the event series.

The TV networks are now put into a major corner, as they will have to find the appropriate responses to the various allegations made both privately and publicly in regards to their involvement in yakuza activities.

The Kanagawa police will under public pressure to respond to Kawamata’s charges against them.

Dentsu, which is the major advertising company that sells ad space to big corporate sponsors who pay for commercials on TV, is watching the situation very carefully because of the major commercial sponsors involved in the fight game who have sponsored many television broadcasts.

Topics: All Topics, Japan, K-1, Media, MMA, PRIDE, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

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