NHK President Masayuki Matsumoto has publicly announced his intention to ensure that performers with connections to organized crime gangs will be prevented from taking part in this year’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (Red and White Song Contest) on New Year’s Eve.
“Kohaku Uta Gassen,” held every Dec 31, divides the most popular music artists of the year into competing teams of red and white. The red team is composed of all female artists (or groups with female vocals), while the white team is all male. The gala has long been a popular fixture among families throughout Japan and has strict rules banning artists with connections to organized crime gangs.
Matsumoto, formerly the vice chairman of Central Japan Railway Co, became president of NHK last January. In a recent interview with Sankei Shimbun, he signaled a strict stance against any performers with potential gang ties. “It has always been a rule of the show to be careful during the selection process. It goes without saying that we try to prevent the appearance of artists with ties to organized crime,” he said.
He went on to say that this year, the rules would be applied more strictly than usual, adding that “investigations” would be carried out into artists’ backgrounds to ensure that no such links existed. The announcement came after a series of figures in the entertainment and sporting worlds, including high profile TV personality Shinsuke Shimada, were involved in scandals when their gang ties were revealed.
“We reserve the right to revoke invitations to perform should any connection to criminal gangs be found,” Matsumoto told Sankei.
“Kohaku Uta Gassen” will be broadcast on NHK on Dec 31 from 7:15 p.m. to 11:45 p.m