Chiba Prefecture’s Investment of 300 Million Yen in Music Producer Takeshi Kobayashi | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Chiba Prefecture’s Investment of 300 Million Yen in Music Producer Takeshi Kobayashi

Huge budget in addition to producing a project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the prefecture's birth. Opaque selection process, simple plans & reports with no need to attach receipts. ......

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Mr. Kobayashi will also be in charge of producing the entire festival, including the Uchiboso Art Fest, which will be held in collaboration with Ichihara, Kisarazu, Kimitsu, and five other Uchiboso cities.

At the end of March, a stage set up at the main bailey of Sakura Castle Ruins Park (Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture) hosted one of Chiba Prefecture’s 150th anniversary commemorative events, the “ENjoy!SAKURA Spring Festival.” Upon arriving at the venue, Yoko Oginome (55) was singing several songs, including “Dancing Hero.”

“There was no backing band, and it felt like karaoke. Later, Remioromen’s vocalist & guitarist Ryota Fujimaki (44), music producer Takeshi Kobayashi (64), who has worked with Remioromen and Mr.Children, and a cellist appeared on stage. For the encore, they sang Remioromen’s ‘March 9th,’ and Oginome joined in for a choir performance of the Okinawan song ‘Hana.’ It seemed like the speakers were only on both sides of the stage, so if you weren’t near the stage and directly in front of it, you couldn’t feel the full impact,” said a spectator.

The finale featured a performance by 300 drones. According to documents obtained by FRIDAY, the production and operation of this Spring Festival, including the drone performance, were subcontracted to Envirorovillage Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Envirorovillage”), headed by Kobayashi, for 13.365 million yen. The drone performance alone had a budget of 9 million yen.

“Some people think it’s a problem to allocate such a large amount of taxpayer money to only a few entertainers.”

About a month before this Spring Festival, Chiba Prefectural Assembly member Emi Kawaguchi, who represents Sakura City, raised questions at the budget committee meeting about the use of public funds for the Chiba Prefecture 150th anniversary commemorative projects. “The prefectural assembly was in an uproar,” testified a veteran prefectural assembly member.

“We knew that Kobayashi would serve as the overall producer for the commemorative projects, but we didn’t know the details. It was only through Kawaguchi’s questions that we learned about the nearly two-year-long contract and the staggering amount of 300 million yen in total public funds being invested. When she mentioned it, we were all like, ‘What!?’ The budget committee was in turmoil, and as soon as it ended, everyone was contacting each other,” said another prefectural assembly member.


To summarize Kawaguchi’s inquiries:

– Kobayashi, representing the nonprofit organization AP Bank, was contracted by the prefecture for nearly two years at a cost of 44 million yen to serve as the overall producer for the commemorative projects.

– A portion of the commemorative projects, including proposals from municipalities such as the “Hundred Years Art Festival,” live art performances, etc., were subcontracted to Envirorovillage for a total of about 264 million yen (through contracts with the Inner Boso Total Art Festival Executive Committee and each municipality).

– The project plans submitted by each municipality to the prefecture were simple Excel spreadsheets. The prefecture did not require copies of receipts to be attached to the reports, and each municipality could receive up to 30 million yen in subsidies (with a total subsidy of 174 million yen against the total project cost).

– Envirorovillage was established on June 13, ’23 (registered on June 8) just before the prefecture’s 150th anniversary (June 15 of the same year). The company has never submitted financial statements.

– The prefecture entered into a discretionary contract with Envirorovillage to produce the “Hundred Years Art Festival” website for 4.9555 million yen.

– One reason Kobayashi was selected was based on a comment by one committee member at the inaugural Commemorative Project Public-Private Collaboration Meeting, stating that he had a connection to Chiba.

“Why would you need such a long-term contract for a one-time event? It’s said that the impetus for Kobayashi’s appointment came from a recommendation by one committee member at a meeting held on October 25, 2022 at the Okura Chiba Hotel, but the Cultural Promotion Division of the prefecture refuses to disclose the name of the committee member. This committee member praised Kobayashi’s integrated farm ‘Kurukufields’ and pushed for him, saying, ‘He has a connection to Chiba,’ but from reading the minutes of the meeting, there were no other voices in support. The subsidy application process was also sloppy. The project plans were simply Excel spreadsheets with numbers like ‘Venue setup cost: ¥●● million’ and ‘Performance fee: ¥●● million.’ Yet the prefecture is giving out huge subsidies without even seeing receipts,” said another prefectural assembly member.

“It was not at Mr. Kobayashi’s request.”

By the way, Kobayashi is from Yamagata Prefecture. When asked by his lawyer, who acts as his proxy, they stated, “We are not aware of which committee member made the recommendation, among other details.” Regarding the points of contention raised by Councilor Kawaguchi, they countered as follows,

“The contract for production, including planning and preparation, spans over a certain period. Mr. Kobayashi has participated in opening events, project presentations, and provided advice to various municipalities. Furthermore, En Village Corporation was established specifically for this project, so it’s natural that it has no track record. Although the budget of 264 million yen for the contract has not yet been paid, En Village Corporation, with a net asset value of 198 million yen, has advanced funds for production costs and other payments on its own, and the events have been successfully carried out. Almost all of the commissioned fees are used for actual expenses and payments to external contractors. This project is implemented with substantial donations from the private sector. There is absolutely no discussion about how public funds are used. Mr. Kobayashi himself has made substantial donations.”

The contracted fee of 264 million yen was not requested by Mr. Kobayashi.

It’s true that Mr. Kobayashi, with his extensive achievements, experience, and wide-ranging connections, would bring certain advantages. However, what Councilor Kawaguchi is concerned about is the opaque process. It’s undeniable that the procedure of allocating nearly 300 million yen of public funds to Mr. Kobayashi’s company and corporation alone is too murky.

The Chiba Prefecture Press and Public Relations Division admitted to disbursing subsidies without checking receipts and added,

“We require subsidy recipients to establish clear documentary evidence of the financial facts regarding the subsidy and impose a five-year obligation to retain records after the completion of the subsidized project.”

Regarding the process of selecting Mr. Kobayashi,

“In consideration of the opinion of one committee member and based on the achievements of candidates who have produced art festivals domestically, the Environmental Life Department Contract Business Designation Jury selected a contractor based on criteria such as activity records in the prefecture, similar project records, dissemination capabilities, creativity/innovativeness, international evaluations, etc.”

This response from the Budget Committee closely echoed the answer provided by the Prefecture, with the committee member’s name still undisclosed. Councilor Kawaguchi, who asked questions in the Budget Committee, expressed the following,

“The department in charge of the prefecture does not readily provide the necessary documents. This is a disregard for the prefectural assembly and, consequently, a lack of accountability to the citizens.”

For Chiba to remain prosperous even a hundred years later, the prefecture must provide full explanations.

Governor Toshihito Kumagai (46) expressed to our magazine during the interview, “Mr. Children is spot-on for my generation. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Kobayashi.”
Continuing his pursuit, Prefectural Assembly member Kawaguchi persists in his questioning. The prefecture, reluctant to provide documents, sometimes insists on filing information disclosure requests instead.

From the May 24, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Asahi Shimbun Hiroyuki Komatsu (Kumagaya Governor) Daisuke Iwasaki (Kawaguchi Prefectural Assembly member)

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