Friend of our site

MMA Headlines


Bleacher Report

MMA Fighting

MMA Torch

MMA Weekly

Sherdog (News)

Sherdog (Articles)

Liver Kick

MMA Junkie

MMA Mania

MMA Ratings

Rating Fights

Yahoo MMA Blog

MMA Betting

Search this site

Latest Articles

News Corner

MMA Rising

Audio Corner


Sherdog Radio

Video Corner

Fight Hub

Special thanks to...

Link Rolodex

Site Index

To access our list of posting topics and archives, click here.

Friend of our site

Buy and sell MMA photos at MMA Prints

Site feedback

Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

« | Home | »

AERA, Playboy, and Gendai talk about Fuji TV & DSE

By Zach Arnold | June 13, 2006

Print Friendly and PDF

By Zach Arnold

This week’s edition of AERA, a weekly magazine produced by Asahi Shimbun, had a one-page article about the PRIDE press conference from last week. The focus was on what Hidehiko Yoshida & Emelianenko Fedor would do next in their careers. It starts off by talking about Yoshida in the PRIDE 2006 open-weight tournament and how he’s a star in prime time (along with mentioning his fight vs. Naoya Ogawa). AERA refers to Shukan Gendai’s negative campaign against DSE for alleged ties to the boryokudan (yakuza). They address how much the Fuji TV contract meant to DSE and address the future of the company by quoting a fight writer (Yoshida of kami no puroresu). The article talks about what kind of decisions Hidehiko Yoshida, Emelianenko Fedor, and Mirko Cro Cop will be facing now that fight money could be decreasing in PRIDE. The article concludes by addressing what role K-1 could play in the situation.

Burning Spirit also has notes on an article in Shukan Playboy. The main three bullet points of the Playboy article deal with: SkyPerfecTV’s decision with PRIDE, the futures of Yoshida & Fedor, and the momentum of UFC.

Shukan Gendai addresses role of Kiyohara

This week’s edition of Shukan Gendai talks about Fuji TV canceling their contract with PRIDE and what the future of Fuji TV chief producer Kunio Kiyohara (Sakakibara’s major ally) will be. Kiyohara is labeled as “Mr. A” throughout the article.

Summary translation

9th Part in our exclusive, PRIDE = boryokudan — is terminated

Fuji TV’s internal investigation of its problem employee
Fuji TV will be implicated in the DSE scandal

Fuji TV has finally moved.

On June 5th, Fuji TV sent a fax to all the media (other than Shukan Gendai) announcing that they were terminating all broadcasts of PRIDE events. As a reason for the sudden termination, Fuji TV said in its notice: “PRIDE’s promotion company breached the contract.” However, the notice did not mention what sort of breach was committed.

Of course, this sudden termination was like water in a sleeping person’s ear to the production staff of PRIDE. According to a senior executive at a fight promotion, “On the same day, June 5th, PRIDE was opening a new dojo and this was attended by Sakakibara, Takada, and Fuji TV producer Mr. A (Kunio Kiyohara). They were all in good spirits and were discussing how to add excitement to PRIDE. Directly after this, Fuji TV notified PRIDE of its termination of relations. That night, the fight program which Mr. A is responsible for (SRS) was due to be filmed but all of the production staff of Fuji TV was terribly disappointed and the atmosphere was very dark.”

Fuji TV also suddenly cancelled the planned broadcast of PRIDE Bushido, which was held on June 4th and scheduled to be broadcast on June 10th.

Why did Fuji TV finally decide to terminate its relations with PRIDE? An executive at Fuji TV had the following to say: “Shukan Gendai has been claiming that PRIDE = boryokudan and in response, our board of directors became concerned. If the facts are as Shukan Gendai has been claiming, we have no choice but to terminate PRIDE and we also have the risk of being investigated by the police. So before this comes out, it was decided to terminate relations with PRIDE. Moreover, we were involved in the whole Livedoor takeover battle and our management is quite sensitive about scandal at this time. The main reason being the shareholders’ meeting is scheduled for the end of June and we didn’t want problems here. We couldn’t accept that shareholders may ask questions to our management about the Shukan Gendai articles. Our Chairman, Hieda, and the top directors decided to protect Fuji by finalizing all problems other than Livedoor before this shareholders’ meeting. Mr. A and his staff had no notice and were not consulted on this decision.”

The articles referred to by this Fuji executive is the 8-part series that we ran about DSE and their relations to the boryokudan (yakuza). This was started by the revelations of Seiya Kawamata, the president of event production company K-Confidence, who risked his life by telling this story.

According to Kawamata, “I escaped from Japan on January 3, 2004 in fear of my life. If I return to Japan, I will be killed.”

Kawamata said this was a result of his acting as the producer of the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 event. On New Year’s Eve of 2003, in competition to NHK’s Kohaku (Red & White Music Festival), Nippon TV was to broadcast Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003, TBS would air K-1 Dynamite!!, and Fuji TV was airing PRIDE’s Otoko Matsuri 2003. We had a ratings war between the three major broadcasters.

Fuji’s lack of responsibility

Kawamata planned to have PRIDE heavyweight champion Emelianenko Fedor appear at this event. As soon as he made a contract with Fedor, he started to receive pressure from DSE’s yakuza.

  1. On December 21, 2003, Kawamata was summoned to a hotel in Tokyo and was met there by a top boss from X-gumi, the actual owner of DSE Mr. I (Ishizaka) and Sakakibara along with members of an affiliate yakuza group of X-gumi, Mr. S (Sakamoto) and younger mobsters from P-gumi. The top boss of X-gumi yelled the following, “WE are the actual owners of PRIDE. We can’t admit this in public, so we use Sakakibara as a front. You’ve tried to get one of our fighters!”
  2. On December 31, 2003, Fedor actually did appear at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 and as a result, Mr. S (Sakamoto) and younger mobsters from P-gumi appeared at Kawamata’s hotel and demanded that Kawamata sign a contract under which Kawamata “admitted” that DSE had exclusive rights to Fedor. The top boss of X-gumi and Sakakibara were waiting at Kobe Wing Stadium and they received the acknowledgement that Kawamata was forced to sign, and returned to Saitama.
  3. On January 1, 2004, Kawamata was ordered by Mr. S (Sakamoto) of P-gumi to go to the head office of P-gumi to meet the top boss. When he appeared, he threatened as follows: “Who do you think allowed you to use Fedor?! Pay up 200 million yen!” Two days later, fearing for his life, Kawamata escaped from Japan.

In Autumn of 2004, Kawamata made a criminal complaint to the Kanagawa Police from his hiding place.

On February 24, 2006, Mr. S (Sakamoto) and lower ranking mobsters were arrested but later released due to insufficient evidence.

Based on Kawamata’s statements, Shukan Gendai has stated to Fuji TV its opinion about DSE and its criminal actions together with the yakuza. At that time, Fuji TV’s PR department responded by stating, “We do not accept that DSE has relations with the yakuza.” Now, we asked the PR department about Fuji TV’s reasons for terminating relations with PRIDE.

Question: What is DSE’s “breach of contract”?

Answer: The reason was a totally unacceptable event which was a breach of the contract, and so we terminated.

Question: That is not an explanation. Can you provide further details?

Answer: We cannot make any further comments, otherwise we will breach confidentially. We are not an investigative agency and so we cannot make final conclusions.

Question: Did you have any contract from the police or prosecutors concerning PRIDE’s connections to the boryokudan, and based on these did you decide to terminate PRIDE?

Answer: The decision was the result of our internal investigation.

Question: Did the articles written by our magazine have any impact on your decision to terminate the PRIDE contract?

Answer: We cannot say that it had no impact.

Question: Did you try to limit the coverage of this incident and the damage to Fuji by making this termination announcement in the same week as the news of the arrest of the suspect in relation to the murdered child in Akita, the arrest of the Murakami Fund executives, and other major incidents?

Answer: Absolutely not. We made our announcement upon receiving the conclusions of our internal report.

Please don’t call me anymore

Last year on New Year’s Eve, PRIDE was able to get a great ratings result of 17% becoming a great problem. However, Fuji TV’s irresponsible attitude to suddenly terminating this program without any proper explanation is not acceptable. Moreover, and even bigger problem remains to be solved. According to a Fuji TV executive, “The problem is how to deal with the producer, Mr. A. Mr. A is connected to PRIDE, K-1, F-1, and other sports programs like Junk Sports and has been very successful. However, as a result of the PRIDE problem, he is now totally isolated in Fuji TV. Internally, a lot of people suspect and rumor that he will be arrested soon.”

Mr. A has intimate relations with PRIDE and knows the full details of PRIDE’s internal matters. Kawamata has also confirmed this fact. In the Spring of 2003, Mr. A said to Kawamata, “Please meet Bara-chan (Sakakibara) at least once.” In response, Kawamata said: “DSE is owned by the boryokudan, so I don’t want to meet with them.” Mr. A said the following explosive thing, considering that these days everybody expects that the TV networks would want to distance themselves from the boryokudan influence. “We understand all these things, but bara-chan works well with these people, so it’s OK” and so Kawamata was able to conclude that Mr. A and Sakakibara had very close relations indeed. According to Kawamata, Mr. A fully knew and understood that PRIDE had a deep relation with the boryokudan (yakuza) and he was surprised that Mr. A would easily accept and understand this situation.

According to a person related to the investigation of Kanagawa Police, “Based on the criminal complaint of Kawamata, Kanagawa Police have interviewed Mr. A on a voluntary basis. Mr. A had this to say in his statements to the police:

Police: Have you ever met DSE’s owner Mr. I (Ishizaka) or the boss of X-gumi?

Kiyohara: I have met both of them in mixed circumstances.”

On another occasion, Mr. A became agitated and said the following to the investigating police:

Police: I want to ask you again about these things.

Kiyohara: I am cooperating on a voluntary basis. Don’t call me any more!”

According to the same person related to the police investigation, “The fact that an employee of one of Japan’s leading TV statings so easily admits to meeting with the boryokudan is totally beyond our belief. He is basically admitting that he established a relationship between the yakuza and Fuji TV. Mr. A has admitted that he has given other production work to a company owned by Sakakibara, other than DSE, for work on other sports program that are not PRIDE. Therefore, we can conclude that their relationship is very deep.”

In addition to the threats made to Kawamata by the boss of X-gumi, this boss also said that “Fuji TV’s producer, Mr. A, asked me to stop Fedor appearing on your event. If Fedor appears, Mr. A said that he would terminate his contract with PRIDE.” From this point, we can conclude that Mr. A has given a direct request to the boryokudan (yakuza).

DSE makes a fool out of their fans

Mr. A understood that even though PRIDE = boryokudan, he still tried to keep relations with them. However, he is not the only one. According to a K-1 person, “As Shukan Gendai reported on, it is a fact that Mr. Ishii was also threatened by DSE’s yakuza. Ishii complained to Mr. A that he had been threatened by DSE’s yakuza and Mr. A replied to Ishii with the following: “If you work exclusively with us, you wouldn’t have those problems.” After this, DSE’s owner Mr. I and other yakuza attacked K-1’s office and Ishii also explained these things to Mr. A. However, Mr. A did not explain these facts to his superiors at Fuji TV. Mr. A controlled all of this information.”

Shukan Gendai: It appears that Mr. A has admitted to the police that he has relations with the yakuza. Does this have any relation to the termination of the PRIDE contract?

Fuji: It is not correct that Mr. A has committed any offenses. We are thinking that the Mr. A problem and the PRIDE termination are two separate issues.

Shukan Gendai: Are you planning on firing Mr. A?

Fuji: We are not planning on firing him. However, because the program has been terminated, he will need to be re-assigned to new responsibilities. We do not accept that the story published by Shukan Gendai is all fact.

On June 8th, DSE held a press conference in a city hotel (Prince Hotel in Tokyo) with 54 PRIDE fighters, including Hidehiko Yoshida and also 600 fans, and Sakakibara announced that Shukan Gendai’s articles were false. Fuji TV has a heavy responsibility for having built a yakuza front company with such deep relations to the fans.

Topics: All Topics, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 5 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

5 Responses to “AERA, Playboy, and Gendai talk about Fuji TV & DSE”

  1. Jwebb76 says:

    Yeah, more tabloids…


  2. Luke says:

    Same Sherdog-like response. Yawn.

  3. sakakibara says:

    hi jdwebb, no more need to defend me from all of these scandalous allegations, which are by the way totally untrue in every respect. one day i will even tell everybody which particulars of the story are untrue, but you might have to wait a little while for that

    in the meantime, sorry but i wont be able to pay your salary anymore and you’ll have to live off selling mirko crocop tshirts until further notice. but keep up the goodwork

  4. Kodansha Fan says:

    Here’s another article from the same issue of that mainstream highbrow publication, Shukan Gendai:

  5. […] 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. […]


To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
Anti-spam image