Matsumoto Hitoshi Faces Sponsorship Withdrawal Risk Amidst Sexual Assault Allegations | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Matsumoto Hitoshi Faces Sponsorship Withdrawal Risk Amidst Sexual Assault Allegations

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Matsumoto is reeling from the allegations. The impact is felt throughout the entertainment industry.

It was at the end of last year that a major allegation was made against a major figure who has continued to lead the world of comedy.

The December 27 issue of weekly Bunshun reported allegations of sexual assault against a woman by Downtown’s Hitoshi Matsumoto (60) and Speed Wagon’s Kazutaka Ozawa (50). On the other hand, Matsumoto’s agency, Yoshimoto Kogyo, quickly and completely denied the allegations as untrue. The two parties’ claims are in direct conflict, with both sides prepared to consider legal action. While there is still no sign of a resolution to the turmoil, the situation has now entered a new phase.

On April 5, Weekly Josei Prime published an image purporting to be a screenshot of a LINE exchange between Ozawa and the woman suspected to be involved in the sexual assault scandal. The article could also be considered a rebuttal to the Bunshun article. Matsumoto himself quoted the same article image and posted on his X (formerly Twitter), “It finally came out” on his X (old Twitter) page. Meanwhile, on the same day, Bunshun Online published an article about another female victim’s accusation. The situation has become even more confusing.

Matsumoto’s allegations of sexual assault have caused a stir in the entertainment world since the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. In the midst of this situation, those around him are busy dealing with the situation. In particular, the television stations with which Matsumoto had close ties moved quickly.

Fuji Television Network replaced some of its commercials with those of AC Japan and other companies in the December 29 broadcast of “Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Sake no Tsumami ni naru Hanashi 2-hour Special in Fukuoka,” and NTV replaced some of its commercials in the December 4 broadcast of “Downtown DXDX.” NHK canceled its New Year’s special, “Such a Night I Can’t Put It into Words,” hosted by Ozawa, which was scheduled to be broadcast on March 3. NHK also announced the cancellation of the New Year’s special, which was scheduled to be broadcast on January 3. The future broadcast schedule is also undecided.

A major advertising agency official pointed out the impact of the series of disturbances.

AC Japan’s commercials are basically those that do not generate advertising revenue. The cancellation of an advertisement during the year-end and New Year’s special program is extremely unusual and is a major blow to the station and the ad agency. The reason why the ads had to be replaced is that the sponsors may have issued an “NG” offer. The fact that NHK’s initial response was so quick, in the form of taking a backseat in dealing with the former Johnny’s’s office’s sexual assault problem, is also evidence that they are taking the situation very seriously. We cannot deny the possibility that the same trend will continue for commercial broadcasters and program sponsors.

A source at a key commercial broadcaster suggested the possibility of program replacements and other actions in the future.

A person involved with a private key station suggests that there is a possibility that the program may be replaced in the future. All the stations have been holding emergency meetings since the end of the year to discuss the replacement of regular programs related to Mr. Matsumoto and Mr. Ozawa, among others. Although we have not heard of any replacements at this point, if this becomes a social problem, as was the case with the old Johnny’s issue, all the stations will be forced to take severe measures.

We have heard that one station is considering replacing its commercials with those of AC Japan and others. If the withdrawal of commercials continues in the future, there is a possibility that sponsors will express various intentions to the program. If this happens, all the stations will have no choice but to act. Depending on how things go from here on, it is possible that their regular programs may be terminated one after another.

At this point, the truth of the situation is still unclear, but the stations and program sponsors have already expressed their concerns and are keeping a close eye on the situation. What will happen next?

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  • PHOTO Ippei Hara

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