Former K-1 owner and founder Kazuyoshi Ishii is making waves in Japan again, only this time outside of the ring.
In December, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, the current Miss International, filed criminal and civil charges against one of Japan’s most powerful talent agencies’ executives for stalking her and attempting to ruin her career.
Yoshimatsu filed the complaint against Genichi Taniguchi, a powerful executive with the talent agency K-Dash and president of the firm Pearl Dash.
Ishii entered a meeting and demanded Yoshimatsu ride with him to the most powerful talent agency in Japan, Burning Productions. Ishii then introduced her to "the Don" of the Japanese entertainment industry, Ikuo Suho. Burning Productions has a tainted past and in 2007 was listed as a client company of the Yamaguchi-gumi.
“He (Kazuyoshi Ishii) demanded I meet a close friend, that he said he and Mr. Suho approve of; Mr. Taniguchi of K-Dash. I made it clear to Mr. Ishii that I was aware of allegations and rumors that the company (Burning Productions) is connected to the yakuza. Morally and ethically, I cannot work with such people or their associates nor do I want to. I refused.”
It came to a head on December 30th at the year and recording of "Bankisha!." Taniguchi was present and began shouting his intentions to ruin Yoshimatsu. He had stated he would ruin all her sponsorships and make it impossible for her to operate, thus opened the gates for the coming lawsuit.
The entertainment industry is nearly totally controlled by the yakuza and the power behind this particular incident is coming from the very top.
“Mr. Shuo is like the Voldermort of the Japanese entertainment world. Everyone knows who he is and is terrified of him but no one wants to say his name. Everyone knows that he and Mr. Taniguchi are close. The costs of pissing him off are huge, in terms of loss of access and revenue, and the benefits of taking Ms. Yoshimatsu’s side are not much. It’s sad but that’s the business.”
Yoshimatsu made her case in a press conference recently and has chosen to stand up to the yakuza-backed entertainment industry. As somewhat of a standalone, she is fighting a battle that could not only put her in danger, but one that will likely last many years.
“I filed charges not just for my personal benefit, but to voice my concern and outrage on behalf of all the women who could not call for help, out of fear of retaliation and being ignored in a society where a ‘culture of silence’ toward crimes against women has been the standard for centuries,” Yoshimatsu said.
Ishii finally broke his silence on the matter this week, stating he is being made out as the bad guy in the situation. Stating he was only trying to help the Miss International winner, his connections within the upper echelon of the yakuza-riddled entertainment industry go without saying. To put into perspective, Ishii's mob connections are very real.