6/05/2006 6:12pm, #1
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- Mar 2006
- Long Island, New York
Fuji TV cancells contract with PRIDE
In lieu of the yakuza scandal.
This is a devestating blow to PRIDE and their revenue. Is it the end of PRIDE? Not sure.
6/05/2006 6:23pm, #2
6/05/2006 6:26pm, #3
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- Mar 2006
- Long Island, New York
The Wrestling Observer transcript, for those of you who can't read kakatana...
--In what is likely to be the biggest news story in this business of 2006, The Fuji Network announced earlier today it was canceling its contract with Pride Fighting Championships. No reason was given, but it was due to the Yakuza scandal as reported in Weekly Gendai magazine. This changes the balance of power in the MMA world completely, as Pride will go from being the major player to a company whose future is very much in question. We'll have a ton more on this in the next Observer. Right now things are just starting to be sorted out. While it may not have the finality as it causing the final end of the company, and certainly not as quickly this is every bit as big, if not bigger then when Jamie Kellner canceled wrestling on the Turner Networks in 2001. Pride's profile in Japan is probably ten times that of WCW's profile in the U.S. in 2001.
6/05/2006 10:51pm, #4
Could those of us out of the loop get the skinny on the "Yakuza scandal"?"Keep a sharp knife, shiny boots and be on time."
6/05/2006 11:00pm, #5
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- Dec 2005
They'll just get a middleman to sign the deal and keep Fuji and Pride off the same contract.
Contract one: Pride and Middleman
Contract two: Fuji and Middleman
Everyone is happy.
6/05/2006 11:33pm, #6
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- May 2004
- Least Cool Guy in all of Japan
Gendai: Company supplied PRIDE owner with mansion
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.
6/05/2006 11:55pm, #7An 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.
6/06/2006 12:33am, #8
Interesting, I hadn't heard of the Yakuza connection before."Keep a sharp knife, shiny boots and be on time."
6/06/2006 12:39am, #9
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- May 2004
- Least Cool Guy in all of Japan
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.
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.
6/06/2006 10:51pm, #10
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- Mar 2005
This is huge news. If Pride cant get solid ppv buys, the company will have to go under significant changes. Where would mma be without Pride...