Talent can be summarily dismissed for gang ties

Despite being known for its yakuza epics, the Toei Kyoto studio has launched a zero-tolerance campaign for gang contacts, in association with the Kyoto police.

The studio behind such iconic pics as “Battles Without Honor or Humanity” issued rules for staff and talent strictly forbidding any gang associations, such as appearances at their social functions based on the recommendations of an inhouse committee.

“This (step) is required for the new anti-gang era,” a studio rep told media. “Despite the (gangster) films we make, we want everyone here to know that actual ties with the gangs are forbidden.”

The antigang movement follows the Aug. 24 resignation of TV comic and host Shinsuke Shimada just as his ties to the yakuza were about to be exposed to the public.

The abrupt end to the career of Shimada, who commanded showbiz heights as the emcee of six regularly skedded shows, sent shockwaves through an industry that has often looked the other way when talent and companies cozied up to Japan’s powerful and omnipresent gangs.

In a related development, Michisada Hirose, the chairman of National Assn. of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan, told reporters Thursday that the org is drafting a standard contract for its members allowing execs to fire talent without penalty if they are found to have gang ties. Minporen plans to send out the contract to members by the end of the year. The org also plans to incorporate an antigang statement into its 2012 ethics rulebook for members.

“There have been cases in the past of (TV) production companies having contacts with antisocial groups,” Hirose said. “We intend to deal with this issue with renewed vigor.”

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