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Gendai: Company supplied PRIDE owner with mansion

By Zach Arnold | May 8, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

A summary transcript of this week’s Shukan Gendai article about PRIDE, Fuji TV, and Nippon TV.

The 6th installment in our series, “PRIDE”

A company listed on the first board of the Tokyo Stock Exchange provides a luxury house to the yakuza owner of PRIDE

How long does Fuji TV intend to ignore the fact that they are funding the yakuza?

The brand of PRIDE was advertised extensively for Fuji TV’s Golden Week programs. Is the money being collected by Fuji TV from commercial sponsors being used to pay the yakuza?

The Broadcast Contract is 650 million yen!

“The popular fight event PRIDE, which is exclusively broadcast by Fuji TV, draws good ratings and so it is easy to assemble sponsors. For each event, the commercial sponsors are paying huge amounts of money to Fuji TV to broadcast their commercials,” according to an employee from a major advertising agency.

Previous to this article, we have carried this story for five weeks running about the links between the yakuza, the fight world, and the TV world. WE have been able to confirm the following three facts:

The real owner of DSE, the promoter of the PRIDE events, Mr. I (Ishizaka), is a member of yakuza group X-gumi and this group has a deep relationship with PRIDE.

DSE used the yakuza to summon and hold against his will and extort a rival event producer (Kawamata). During these incidents, Mr. I and Sakakibara were also present.

Knowing the above facts, Fuji TV has continued to exclusively broadcast PRIDE events in an attempt to secure ratings.

On New Year’s Eve of 2003, the rival event to Fuji TV’s PRIDE event, Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003, was broadcast by Nippon TV. The producer of Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003, Seiya Kawamata, was threatened and extorted by the yakuza dispatched by PRIDE from X-gumi and P-gumi, and then escaped from Japan overseas.

According to Kawamata, “The TV broadcasters pay the promoters of these events a broadcasting fee. For my event, Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003, Nippon TV paid me 450 million yen for the broadcast rights. I have heard that Fuji TV paid DSE 600-650 million yen for PRIDE’s Otoko Matsuri (Man Festival) 2003 event. From its establishment, DSE has worked closely with X-gumi. We can say that Fuji TV is paying money directly to the yakuza in this way.”

An even bigger problem is that the money paid by the TV networks for broadcasting rights is collected from commercial sponsors. Even people within Fuji TV find this strange. As a matter of fact, in this way, Fuji TV collects money from commercial sponsors and pays this money directly to the yakuza. We wonder how much of this the commercial sponsors understand.

The Police Focus on a Company President

Each year (since 2003), Fuji TV has been broadcasting PRIDE’s Otoko Matsuri show on New Year’s Eve. The average ratings for this program were 12.2% in 2003, 18.3% in 2004, and 17% in 2005. How much does Fuji TV get from commercial sponsors?

According to an employee of Nippon TV, “For broadcasts during Golden Time for the Giants, a major sponsor announced pays 10 million yen for a 30-second commercial. For New Year’s Eve, we can take 10 million yen as the absolute minimum.”

For PRIDE’s 2005 Otoko Matsuri show, there were 54 companies with 30-second commercials. Additionally, there were 42 companies which bought 15-second commercial slots (but didn’t have their names announced as sponsors). If we consider 10 million yen for 30 seconds as the base amount, and that the 15-second spot sponsors are paying 5 million yen, then this produces a total amount of 750 million yen of revenue to Fuji TV. Part of this money was paid to DSE as a broadcasting fee, which was without a doubt paid to the yakuza. Even though they knew this, Fuji TV continues to deny knowledge of this fact.

After the arrest of members of P-gumi for the extortion and threads made to Kawamata, Kanagawa Police (who received Kawamata’s criminal complaint) are still continuing their investigation.

According to a source close to the investigation, “We are concentrating our efforts on one of DSE’s major sponsors and the president of this company is very close to Mr. I. We police consider Mr. I as a yakuza. On February 14th of 2006, Mr. I was due to return to Narita Airport from Australia and we were ready to arrest him at Narita. However, maybe he got word of this and he suddenly changed his plans and went to South Korea. Right now, we are pressuring the president of this sponsor company to get to Mr. I.”

The sponsor that the police are concentrating on is a company from Hyogo prefecture, Nishinomiya City which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and is called S Foods Inc. The President is Shinnosuke Murakami (age 49). This company had a number of hit food products, specifically in the Kansai area. Mr. Murakami had a company called Murachik but in March of 2005, this company merged with S Foods and Murakami became the President. On March 1st of 2006, he became the President. This was reported in various newspapers.

A president of a fight promoter has the following to say about the relationship between Mr. I and Murakami. “PRIDE was held in October of 1997. AT this time, Murakami invested 500 million yen through Mr. I. At that time, PRIDE made the fight between the world’s top fighter, Rickson Gracie, and Takada. Rickson wanted 100 million yen as fight money. If Murakami didn’t invest in this event, PRIDE would have not been started.”

A 450 million yen mansion provided for free

There is clear evidence of the close relationship between Murakami and Mr. I. According to a source close to the Kanagawa Police investigation, “Mr. I’s residence in Shinagawa, Tokyo is actually owned by Murakami. It is a very luxurious house. We can say that this is evidence of a listed public company president being closely related to the yakuza.”

The house provided by Murakami to Mr. I is in a very exclusive neighborhood. Even in this exclusive neighborhood with many impressive houses, this house is particularly impressive. The garage is big enough for two huge cars. The two-story house built above the carpark is modeled on a church style. We could confirm that the marble entrance way had the name of Mr. I. We tried using the interphone a number of times, with no response. According to the legal real estate title documents for this property, the real estate of 240 square meters and building occupies 310 square meters. The registered owner is Murakami.

According to a local real estate agent, “This is a traditional luxury neighborhood and the value of the land is around 3-3.1 million yen per square meter. For both the land and building, a minimum valuation would be 450 million yen. Monthly rental would be over 1 million yen.”

We wanted to confirm the relationship between Mr. I and Murakami, so we made an interview request to Murakami. We asked the following questions and got the following responses:

Gendai: Did you invest in the establishment of PRIDE?
Murakami: That is not a fact.

Gendai: What relationship do you have with Mr. I? And do you know that he is a yakuza?
Murakami: In relation to Mr. I, I am personally invested in his brother’s oversea food franchise. I have no knowledge of the other matter mentioned.

Gendai: Mr. I is occupying your real estate. What is the purpose of this?
Murakami: I an not renting this property to Mr. I, he is taking care of the property for me.

Gendai: Are you being questioned by the police about your relations with Mr. I?
Murakami: There is no fact to this.

Murakami admitted to allowing Mr. I to live at his house without charge, but otherwise denied the questions.

The fact is that the yakuza are using the public broadcasters to gather money. This cannot continue forever.

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

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