Osaka Comedian Don Nakata Kaus Addresses Matsumoto Hitoshi Problem and Criticisms | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Osaka Comedian Don Nakata Kaus Addresses Matsumoto Hitoshi Problem and Criticisms

Exclusive 120-minute confession: "If he has laid his hands on customers and amateurs," ...... Former special advisor to a major figure who has supported the "comedy empire" for more than half a century speaks out about a string of troubles.

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Kaus is interviewed by this magazine. He strongly criticized the attendance culture that had been established around Matsumoto.

“I emerged as an idol comedian, and I received support from countless girls. Even though my partner was a bit of a playboy, our comedy duo never crossed the line with fans. That was also our mentor’s teaching. Matsumoto is out. If he really did touch fans, ordinary people.”

These are the critical words from a man amidst the swirl of allegations against Matsumoto Hitoshi (age 60). This man is Nakata Kaus (age 74), once a special advisor to Yoshimoto Kogyo and also known as “Yoshimoto’s fixer.” Debuting with his partner Nakata Button (age 75) in 1967, Nakata has been involved in comedy at Yoshimoto for 57 years, and in 2014, he became the chairman of the Kamigata Manzai Association. A figure who has been described as having defended Yoshimoto with his body has now spoken to FRIDAY about the ongoing turmoil within the agency and Matsumoto’s problem.

“If you have the mentality of valuing your audience, you wouldn’t feel inclined to do such things. If Matsumoto had a mentor, I think he would have been expelled long before facing company disciplinary action. For comedians, it’s important to be considerate of others. Getting into trouble with amateur girls. That’s just despicable.”

Nakata insists that his fans are simply audience members, and it’s unthinkable to make advances. In his early days when the audience was mainly older men and women, he approached young women around the theater, seeking reactions for his routines. Afterward, with a breakthrough style of wearing jeans and a T-shirt, he was chased by female fans daily. However, he claims his mindset remained unchanged even then.

“At that time, I was surrounded by fans everywhere, even when I got home, girls would come over. To put it bluntly, if I had wanted to, I could have had a field day. But I didn’t do anything. They were like daughters to me.”

Despite Kaus’s philosophy, “fan-eating” by comedians has become a common occurrence. Kaus raises an eyebrow at this trend.

He says, “There are no longer any masters who condemn this kind of thing. I thought, ‘That’s not good,’ so 14 or 15 years ago I started going to NSC as a special instructor. There, I told him, ‘You have to take good care of your customers, especially girls. Especially comedians who are disliked by girls will never sell, because they are 100% unsuccessful.
Try going to the Yoshimoto Manzai Theater in Osaka. You should go to the “Yoshimoto Manzai Theater” in Osaka, and you will see that all the customers are young women. That’s why I tell young comedians, ‘The fans are pseudo-lovers. The fan girls are having a pseudo-love affair with you. You can’t betray them. A comedian who doesn’t have that kind of awareness is not a professional, but an amateur. They gather girls as attendants and put their hands on them. Did that really happen? I didn’t even know the word “attendants. I had no idea that Matsumoto’s group had girls prepared for them.

 Contrary to Nakata’s philosophy, it has become commonplace for comedians to eat up their fans. Nakata frowns upon this trend.


“There aren’t many mentors left to admonish this behavior. That’s why about 14-15 years ago, I started going to NSC as a special lecturer. There, I told them, ‘You have to value your audience. Comedians who are disliked by girls will never succeed. They’ll never make it, 100%.’ Just go to the Yoshimoto Manzai Theater in Osaka. It’s filled with young female audience members. So, I tell young comedians, ‘Those fans are experiencing pseudo-romance. You shouldn’t betray them.’ Comedians who lack that awareness are not professionals but amateurs. They gather girls under the pretext of ‘attending’ and make advances. Did that really happen? I didn’t even know the term ‘attending.’ I had no idea that Matsumoto and others were arranging girls.”


Nakata dismisses the reported attending culture prevalent around Matsumoto. It was Daizaki Hiroshi (age 70), the former chairman of Yoshimoto, who discovered Matsumoto. Nakata also offers harsh opinions about Daizaki, who once wielded considerable power as the top executive at Yoshimoto.


“In this Matsumoto case, Daizaki said, ‘All we can do is support from afar,’ right? He says things like, ‘I raised Downtown,’ but supporting from afar isn’t parenting. True parenting is staying by someone’s side even if you can’t do anything for them. So, Daizaki was not raising them; he was manipulating them. He previously said in a newspaper, ‘Yoshimoto had Downtown for 45 years,’ but were there really no other comedians besides Downtown? While Daizaki was saying to the Downtown generation, ‘You don’t even need to do manzai,’ the comedians who were earnestly performing manzai in theaters are the ones supporting Yoshimoto now, aren’t they?”


Furthermore, in July 2019, when the dark business problem arose, President Okamoto Akihiko (age 57) held a press conference and answered questions from the media for five and a half hours. Nakata is also said to feel indignation toward Daizaki regarding this press conference.


“When the dark business incident happened, Matsumoto suddenly showed up with Tono (Koji) at the company’s management meeting. Matsumoto said, ‘I want to hold a press conference.’ It’s strange for a comedian to enter a management meeting. Probably Daizaki called him. If Matsumoto started talking, it would pressure President Okamoto into holding a press conference. In fact, during the meeting, Daizaki said to President Okamoto, ‘You can do a press conference, right?’ President Okamoto couldn’t refuse. He had just become president and had no experience with press conferences. However, President Okamoto must have been prepared to do it. Actually, at that press conference, Daizaki was standing right behind the partition. He was giving instructions from behind. He called me twice and said, ‘Nakata-san, please be patient. I’ll turn everything around, so it’ll be okay.’ There were two calls from Daizaki that day, but I thought he was going to question me about why I had left the press conference. President Okamoto was humiliated at that press conference. I think he endured it well.”

In 2019, President Okamoto held a press conference regarding the black market issue. The venue was packed with approximately 300 members of the press.

Making Osaki as president was a mistake.

In the press conference regarding the dark business problem, Nakata claims that Matsumoto and Daizaki were the ones quietly demanding it behind the scenes.

“We won’t know if President Okamoto and Daizaki severed ties during that press conference unless we ask them personally, but the fact remains that Daizaki used President Okamoto as a ‘sacrificial pawn,’ right? It’s only natural for the top executive to take responsibility, or even for Daizaki to join the press conference. It’s strange to have only President Okamoto, who has no experience, take the spotlight. During Yoshimoto Kogyo’s ‘110th Anniversary party in Osaka, a comedian hosting the event brought up the topic of dark business with President Okamoto. I, on behalf of President Okamoto, said, ‘President Okamoto did an excellent job at that press conference. That press conference should have been handled by Daizaki.’ The audience responded with, ‘That’s right, that’s right!'”

Continuing his criticism of Daizaki, Nakata also mentioned during the interview, “Shinsuke Shimada was also crushed by Daizaki.” However, Nakata also recalls a time when he cooperated with Daizaki. It was during the family turmoil at Yoshimoto in 2007, when the founding family and management clashed.

“At that time, I had dinner with Daizaki once. Daizaki asked, ‘Do you think I can become the president?’ I replied, ‘If you want to become president, I want you to do your best, and I’ll help you.’ At that time, Isao Yoshino was the primary candidate, a gentle person. I thought, ‘It would be good if Yoshino-san became president first, and then Daizaki.’ So, I worked hard behind the scenes to support them. Yoshino-san became president, and Daizaki became the top contender for vice president. On the day the vice president appointment was decided, Daizaki kept calling me from morning till night, asking, ‘How did it go? How did it go?’ In the end, Daizaki became the vice president, and then he became the president. The biggest mistake in my 57 years as a Yoshimoto comedian was making Daizaki the president.”

Nakata asserts that pushing for Daizaki’s presidency was his biggest mistake while also expressing hope for President Okamoto’s future.

“During the dark business incident, President Okamoto suffered such humiliation. President Okamoto is a person of integrity who would consider taking responsibility and resigning. That’s why I carefully conveyed to him, ‘If you are prepared to take responsibility and resign, please continue to serve as president for the sake of Yoshimoto Kogyo’s future.’ I hope he will protect the company with that mindset, and I have expectations for President Okamoto.”

Another topic Nakata discussed in the FRIDAY interview was the “Yoshimoto isolation incident.” It started in January of this year when several comedians affiliated with Yoshimoto Kogyo posted on social media that they were no longer allowed to invite comedians from other agencies to Yoshimoto-sponsored live shows. This led to the trend of “Yoshimoto isolation.” There is information that Nakata was actually involved in this series of events, and he was questioned about it.

“Ten years ago, I was allowed to create the ‘Yoshimoto Manzai Theater,’ which specialized in young comedians. The young comedians compete for slots in that theater. If there’s no competition, comedians won’t improve. It’s not right to be immature; I’m saying they shouldn’t fool around with comedians from other agencies. It’s okay to hang out with them outside of work. But the young comedians are fighting desperately to perform on the stage of the Manzai Theater. Amidst that, if comedians from other agencies come and go, it disrupts the serious competition environment for young comedians at the theater.”

In May 2023, Osaki was interviewed directly by FRIDAY about his resignation as chairman. He also revealed his exchange with Matsumoto just before stepping down.

Young comedians have changed.

To preserve an environment where young talents at Yoshimoto can grow and improve, Kaosu believes it’s necessary to deliberately cut off interactions with other talent agencies. From this series of discussions, glimpses of Kaosu’s comedian philosophy, valuing theaters above all else, can be seen.

“At Yoshimoto, theaters and audiences are paramount. Without theater audiences, masterful performances wouldn’t emerge. Comedians who distance themselves from theaters, focusing solely on television, become too busy to refine their acts or their material, and they grow afraid of returning to the theaters. Such comedians, even if they lose their television jobs, may not be able to return to theaters because theaters have advanced beyond television in terms of audience appeal. While there was a time when television was dominant, that’s not the case anymore. Consequently, nowadays, there are hardly any young comedians aspiring to be like ‘Downtown.’ Instead, they all want to achieve success in theaters, win every comedy award, make a mark, and embark on nationwide tours.”

In response to Kaosu’s narrative, last year’s M-1 Grand Prix winners, “Reiwa Roman,” have declared that they “basically won’t appear on television.” When asked about Yoshimoto Entertainment during Matsumoto’s hiatus, he stated, “There are plenty of comedians who were previously restrained by Oozaki and those who are about to emerge.” He concluded his remarks about Yoshimoto as follows:

“Yoshimoto is a national treasure. It regularly stirs up public discussions, and everyone enjoys criticizing it online. In a way, this serves as stress relief, making Yoshimoto a company that helps people cope. Our scandals are straightforward, just like Matsumoto’s or the dark business scandal. When people see such simple scandals, everyone feels like they could be journalists. So, in reality, everyone loves Yoshimoto.”

How Matsumoto and Yoshimoto Entertainment interpret the words of this veteran remains to be seen.

On March 25, he updated his SNS for the first time in two months to express his thoughts. Will he be able to make the comeback he desires?
Kaus Nakata, the don of Osaka comedians, talks about the “Hitoshi Matsumoto problem and Yoshimoto Kogyo” 《Exclusive confession 120 minutes》 (in Japanese only)
Unpublished Cut: Osaka Comedian Don Kaus Nakata talks about “The Matsumoto Hitoshi Issue and Yoshimoto Kogyo” (Exclusive Confession 120 min.)
Unpublished Cut: Osaka Comedian Don Kaus Nakata Talks about “The Matsumoto Hitoshi Issue and Yoshimoto Kogyo” 《Exclusive Confession 120 min》 《FRIDAY》 2024

From the April 19, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Kei Kato (Kausu Nakata), Takayuki Ogawauchi (Mr. Osaki), Ippei Hara (Hitoshi Matsumoto), Shinji Hasuo (Mr. Okamoto)

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