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Summary translation of new Gendai article

By Zach Arnold | April 26, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

On Monday, we posted a brief summary of the latest Shukan Gendai article about DSE, Fuji TV, and Nippon TV in relation to allegations of ties to the yakuza.

Today, we present to you a summary translation of the latest Shukan Gendai article (which focuses heavily on Fuji TV producer Kunio Kiyohara, who is in Las Vegas this week for the K-1 show at the Mirage Hotel).

Summary translation:

President Sakakibara of PRIDE threatens to make a criminal complain against Gendai!

The police are concentrating on the man who connects Fuji TV to the yakuza

The producer of the fight event broadcast by Nippon TV on New Year’s Eve 2003 was threatened by the yakuza and had to escape overseas. In relation to this incident, the police are investigating PRIDE and Fuji TV staff. How do these people have relations to the yakuza?

Criminal Complaint to the Police

It’s an absolute joke, but on April 13th, 2006, President Sakakibara of DSE (the promoter of the popular fight event called PRIDE) said following at press conference at the Tokyo Prince Hotel, “I will take civil and criminal actions against Shukan Gendai. They are writing things as fact which are not facts. They didn’t contact us at all before making these stories.”

This week, we continue the fourth edition in our series of articles about the connections between the fight world, TV broadcasters, and the yakuza.

These are the facts relating to the threats made by Seiya Kawamata, the producer of the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 event broadcasted by Nippon TV on December 31, 2003:

  1. The yakuza from X gumi were dispatched by DSE to threaten Kawamata
  2. Sakakibara was also present when these threats were made
  3. The actual owner of DSE, Mr. I (Ishizaka), is part of yakuza group X Gumi and therefore, DSE is a part of the yakuza
  4. Kawamata, fearing for his life, escaped overseas on January 3, 2004
  5. Fuji TV has continued to exclusively broadcast PRIDE events, even after knowing about DSE’s connections to the yakuza
  6. Nippon TV continued to broadcast the Inoki event, even after knowing about the involvement of the yakuza in relation to that event

The police have taken a very strong interest in the above facts.

We have contacted DSE and Sakakibara on numerous occasions in attempts to interview them for these articles. However, the only response from DSE was on March 8th. This response was from DSE’s PR department and is as follows:

“It is not true that Sakakibara was present at the time the threats were made. Associating with these sorts of people only has negative results.”

We have called DSE by phone many times, but have gotten no response from them. We can confirm that Sakakibara’s comment that we did not contact them is an outright lie. Moreover, his threats of legal action are a total joke.

However, DSE’s totally unacceptable response to this incident is matched by Fuji TV and Nippon TV. PRIDE’s exclusive broadcaster, Fuji TV, has responded to our requests for an interview by having their PR department send us a formal complaint. The contents of this complaint are:

“Your inadequate research and handling of this story and publishing of inaccurate facts has led to an inaccurate understanding of the facts in this case.”

Nippon TV, who broadcasted the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 event despite knowing that Kawamata was being attacked by the yakuza, has formally rejected any interviews with us in a written response as follows:

“The investigation by the Kanagawa Police into the facts surrounding this incident has result in the Kanagawa prosecutor decided to release the persons arrested (Sakamoto and his two yakuza understudies) in relation to this incident. You are of course aware of this. We believe that this fact has a large bearing on the accuracy of your story…”

The arrested yakuza from P gumi were released due to the evidence not being sufficient “at this time.” That is all. We do not understand why the simple fact of their release should impact the accuracy of our story.

The real problem is the fact that the yakuza were involved in the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 show. Kawamata is putting his life on the line by making these criminal allegations. We cannot accept the disgraceful response of Japan’s leading TV broadcasters to these incidents. As a matter of fact, Kawamata has made a detailed complaint to the Kanagawa Police of the facts relating to his being threatened by DSE’s yakuza.

In March 2004, Kawamata sent this complaint to the police and he explains the circumstances below:

“I explained to the Kanagawa Police that I believed that the yakuza groups, X gumi and P gumi, were working together. But in response, the police checked my wife, family, and my bank accounts. I cannot accept that, even though I am the victim in this, I was treated as a suspect. I then created the detailed complaint while I was overseas on my computer and sent it to my friend here in Japan. He then delivered this to the Kanagawa Police.”

I want you to meet Bara-chan

The contents of Kawamata’s complaint are shocking.

For example, Fuji TV’s A producer (Kunio Kiyohara) said to Kawamata, “I want you to meet Bara-chan (Sakakibara).” Kawamata refused by saying, “I don’t want to because DSE is owned and run by the yakuza.” Kawamata describes the events below:

“Around April of 2003, the day before the K-1 event in Las Vegas, Fuji TV’s A producer (Kiyohara) came to my room at the Mirage Hotel to talk to me. I thought that the TV networks would be very concerned about the involvement of the yakuza in their programs, but A producer clearly said to me, “I understand everything that is going on. But Bara-chan handles the yakuza very well, and so it is OK.” I then discovered that the relations between A Producer and Sakakibara were much deeper than I expected. I could confirm that there was a full knowledge and deep relationship between the employees of Fuji TV, A Producer, and DSE and their yakuza owners & backers.”

The relationship started by A Producer, between Kawamata and Sakakibara became problematic in October of 2003 when Kawamata decided to work with Nippon TV for the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 event.

On December 21, 2003, Kawamata was held against his will by the yakuza dispatched by DSE. According to Kawamata:

“I arrived at the Akasaka Tokyu Hotel just before the time I was ordered to be there. Just before 1 PM, the boss of yakuza group X gumi, together with DSE’s owner Ishizaka & Sakakibara, arrived in the room. The X gumi boss sat in his seat and said to me, “We run PRIDE. We can’t appear to be running this sort of event, so Sakakibara is the man who appears to be running the show.”

Following these events, Kawamata was also extorted by the yakuza S (Sakamoto) from P gumi. Kawamata says:

“S (Sakamoto) said to me, ‘Our boss has said you should pay for our services.’ I asked S how much I should pay and he replied, ‘5 million yen,’ and so the next day around lunch time, I took 5 million yen to the appointed cafe in Yotsuya and gave it to the boss of P gumi in front of S and another young yakuza.”

Furthermore, in 2004, S again summoned Kawamata and they demanded he pay them 200 million yen. This was the direct reason for Kawamata escaping overseas.

An Employee of Fuji TV is being questioned by the police

Based on Kawamata’s complaint, the Kanagawa Police undertook a major investigation. According to persons related to the investigation:

“This investigation is being run by a top-ranking offer, and until the end of last year it had around 30 police involved. On February 24, 2006, the number of police was increased and we heard that the owner of DSE, I (Ishizaka), was returning from Australia to Japan and 30 police were dispatched to Narita Airport to arrest him. Another 30 police were sent to the head office in Osaka of the top of X gumi. The persons who had threatened Kawamata were due to be arrested. However, either there was an information leak or the accused changed his plans, but in any event the accused went to South Korea instead of Narita. The boss of X gumi had also disappeared. On the same day, S and others from P gumi were arrested as a part of this investigation. At this time, the investigation continues and all relevant parties are being questioned by the police. We are also talking to A Producer (Kiyohara) from Fuji TV.”

We are shocked to learn that an employee of Fuji TV, A Producer, is under police questioning.

Fuji TV’s A Producer (Kiyohara) has said the following to the police:

“I have met the boss of the yakuza group X gumi and also Mr. I (Ishizaka). I have been drinking with them on several occasions.”

The police were shocked to hear A Producer so easily admit to this. The person closely connected to the police investigation said:

“The police in charge of the investigation were shocked that Fuji TV’s A producer (Kiyohara) so easily admitted to these relations to the yakuza. It seems that A Producer doesn’t understand the seriousness of this matter or he has a lot of confidence that he can’t be arrested. In any case, he is taking the piss out of the police.”

The police are also concentrating on Sakakibara as a key figure in this investigation. The same police source says:

“The investigating police are closely concentrating on Sakakibara’s expensive lifestyle, living in the exclusive Roppongi Hills and driving an expensive foreign car. Furthermore, the relationship to Mr. I (Ishizaka) and the yakuza is being closely examined.”

Shukan Gendai wanted to hear from A Producer (Kiyohara), so we went to his highly-expensive apartment building in Minato-ku, Tokyo. Even though we rang his door chime many times, there was no response.

In response to our questions to Fuji TV about “Is it true that A Producer is questioned by the police?”, Fuji TV replied:

“We do not keep a record of who all of our employees meet, where they meet them, or what discussions they have and so we cannot respond to your questions.”

Fuji TV has attacked major corporations such as Sumitomo Bank, Daiichi Kogyo Bank, Nomura Securities, Mitsubishi Motors, and others when it was revealed that they were paying money to the yakuza. Why does Fuji TV have these connections to the yakuza?

We know that Fuji TV is collecting enormous amounts of money from sponsors for its broadcasts of PRIDE events. We cannot forgive or excuse Fuji TV from its involvement and funding of the yakuza.

Topics: All Topics, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

One Response to “Summary translation of new Gendai article”

  1. […] No, Fred, Fuji TV dumped PRIDE not because of allegations simply from Shukan Gendai. There was a formal police investigation from the Kanagawa police on this matter. As has been noted before, some Fuji TV employees had been questioned by the police in the past over business dealings with PRIDE. More importantly, two investigations (one from the Kanagawa police and one internal Fuji TV investigation) pointed out that chief TV producer and friend of Sakakibara, Kunio Kiyohara, had a lot more involvement than initially suspected in PRIDE. It was reported that Kiyohara had social meetings with PRIDE’s alleged backer, Mr. I (Ishizaka), and that this open admission of associating with a top underworld boss (who had rumoredly made his name in loan sharking circles in Osaka) was shocking considering how high of a profile Kiyohara had publicly. His father, Takehiko Kiyohara, became chairman of Sankei Shimbun (a major newspaper) and his name helped his son land his position in the FujiSankei conglomerate. Furthermore, Gendai wrote that Kiyohara was investigated over accusations of him transferring money from the conglomerate to fund other business projects that Sakakibara was involved in. By no means was the investigation into PRIDE simply based on magazine reports, although the public spotlight did provide some momentum. The red flags raised came from police questioning about Kiyohara. Fuji TV President Hieda wanted to clean the conglomerate from scandals (2005 was quite the year between Livedoor’s attempted takeover bid and the Murakami Fund scandal) before having to address 1,000 stockholders about corporate accountability. […]

  2. […] After Shukan Gendai’s negative multi-month campaign on PRIDE was launched, a lot of people felt the heat. The biggest target was Fuji TV, which was paying PRIDE handsomely for each show produced and aired on golden-time (prime-time) TV. The peak of the Shukan Gendai campaign hit right before PRIDE’s 5/5/2006 Osaka Dome event, which many fans started to wonder if it was going to be the last event that the TV network would ever air. It was during this time that Kazushi Sakuraba showed up in HERO’s ring, with Gendai claiming that Sakuraba echoed concerns about PRIDE to others. It was PRIDE boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara who threatened legal action against Shukan Gendai (no official word was ever released regarding a result from a criminal complaint) right before the Osaka Dome show. PRIDE was losing the media war with Shukan Gendai and it was starting to effect their bottom line. Shukan Gendai’s claims that PRIDE was a yakuza dummy company (as opposed to a legitimate company with owners) caused negative PR damage. Fight fans had been conditioned to tolerate yakuza involvement in the fight industry, but a fight organization as an actual dummy company (a front)? PRIDE fans were worried about Gendai’s negative campaign and the effect it would have on the company’s ability to produce a product. As long as the promotion could continue to produce fights, the fans would show up to the events. […]