Shinsuke Shimada

Today Shinsuke Shimada, a comedian legend in Japan, was fired/resigned from his duties as a result of a Yakuza scandal. The scandal?  He had email contact with a known Yakuza member … that’s it.  Talking to Yakuza isn’t a crime in Japan and there was no attempted crimes in the email just the Japanese cultural crime of guilt by association. Much like how Noriko Sakai was excommunicated from TV for admitting doing speed in the past (a drug the Japanese government used to give its citizens to improve their factory output) Shimada has been pushed out of the limelight.  This might seem strange to foreigners after all Frank Sinatra became legend even though he was a known mob associate but in Japan there is a taboo in talking to the Yakuza, a crime that will get you thrown off TV.

Shinsuke Shimada rose through the ranks of the Osaka comedy scene to become the go to host for Japanese TV.  At one time he was hosting eight different quiz or variety shows, in addition to even being an anchor for the Asahi’s TV Sunday morning news program.  No stranger to controversy once during a 2009 live taping of “All Star Kanshasai” a five hour live TV show he attacked a comedy group for not showing enough respect for the show.  Even further back Shimada assaulted a young co-worker who “went up to him and introduced herself, saying that when she was in high school in Tokyo she was a big manzai (stand-up comedy) fan.”  For that crime he dragged her into a room and assaulted her.  The justification for the attack?  ” the woman, who … grew up overseas, didn’t seem to know how to talk “ to her superiors, her senpai.  Shimada is notorious for following a strict hierarchy of deference to superiors that seems to evolve in any Japanese group or sub-culture, something the younger Japanese are following less and less.  Which is how he justified the attack on the young women saying, “he couldn’t control himself and felt he had to teach her a lesson.”

With his exit from the Japanese TV the networks are scrambling to fill the void of dozens of hours of his shows that have already been taped.  It is unknown if they will be broadcast now that Shimada has been forced out in disgrace.  But there is still hope and a chance for redemption for Shimada. A few years ago famous TV anchor Mona Yamamoto was caught in a love hotel having an affair with Goshi Hosono, an executive of the Democratic Party of Japan that was supposedly a happily married man. Mona too was excommunicated from TV for her transgressions but after sometime off air she was allowed back into the fold. However, shortly after making a comeback she was caught again in a love hotel this time with Tomohiro Nioka a married baseball player.

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