Haga Kenji Arrested on Extortion Charges

Talento Haga Kenji (45) was arrested on Saturday, along with a senior member of the yakuza, a former world boxing champion and one other. Osaka prefectural police arrested Haga, former WBA and WBC super flyweight champion Watanabe Jiro (52), Kawakita Toshikazu (69), a gang leader affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi syndicate, and Hatsushika Yuji (57), described only as unemployed. Police say that in 2001, the debt-ridden playboy Haga sold shares in an unlisted Tokyo-based medical consulting company at triple their actual price to an acquaintance, a real estate company president in Osaka. The man was reluctant to pay ¥370 million for the shares but Haga called him hundreds of times with guarantees that the investment would pay out five-fold. In the end, only ¥120 million was used to buy shares in the man’s name, the rest of the money being used to buy shares in the name of Haga’s company and to repay his debts. The consulting company almost immediately declared bankruptcy and the man started looking for his money back. In June last year the accused, excluding Haga, presented him with a document saying Haga would return only the handling fee of ¥10 million, forcing him to sign under threat of violence or worse. And of that money, Kawakita and Hatsushika are said to have taken more than ¥6 million. Haga claims that the matter is settled as he returned the money as described in the document. Only Hatsushika has owned up to the allegations. Until this incident came to light, Haga had managed to convince the showbiz world that he had repaid his debts through his hard work running a successful jewelry business. He got married in Hawaii in October of last year.

• The career of singer Kahara Tomomi (32) is on the rocks again. A top J-pop star under Svengali-like Komuro Tetsuya in the mid-1990s, she has tottered from one emotional crisis to another since a romantic breakup with the producer in 1999. She was released by her management agency, Production Ogi, at the end of last week after several months of sudden cancellations, drunken collapses and an ongoing history of prescription drug dependency. President Ogi Toru (64) said, “It really is regrettable and heartbreaking. She needs to get medical treatment right away, deal with her addictions, and get back on her feet again as a person. As long as she’s dependent on tranquilizers and sleeping pills she won’t have a contract with us.” Her regular TV slot and concerts planned for this month have been canceled, and her fan club has been disbanded. Her contract with Universal Music has also been canceled.

• TM Revolution vocalist Nishikawa Takanori (36) has admitted his romance with actress Otsuka Chihiro (21). The two appeared together this spring in the stage musical “How to Succeed”. Nishikawa was formerly married to Puffy member Yoshimura Yumi (32).