12 members of J-pop group Exile were among those performing for the Emperor and Empress at a special concert held last night. The “Kokumin Saiten” was a day-long parade and festival held around the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Emperor’s ascension to the throne. Last night’s concert, featuring both traditional and popular music, was held in a garden in front of the palace and attended by about 30,000 people. Braving the cold on stage to congratulate the royal couple were such showbiz names as veteran actress Mori Mitsuko (89), comedian Hagimoto Kinichi (68) and actresses Tokiwa Takako (37) and Miyazaki Aoi (23). There were also leading sports figures, Nobel prize winners, an astronaut and regional political leaders who thanked the royal couple for their support in times of natural disaters. The crowd waved Hinomaru flags and carried traditional lanterns. Dressed in black velvet 3-piece suits, Exile performed with their backs to the crowd and facing the Emperor and Empress, who came out to watch the finale of the show from the landmark Nijubashi bridge.
Talento Hazama Kampei (60) just managed to crossed the EU in time in the latest leg of his Earth Marathon. The veteran Yoshimoto comedian crossed the border from Hungary into Serbia yesterday, having run across eight European countries since landing in France in mid-August. He traversed the EU in 87 days, just under the 90-day limit for visitors without a visa. An experienced endurance runner, Hazama is seeking to be the first man to run and sail his way around the globe. One of the aims of the journey was to support Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics in Copenhagen last month, but although he made it to the announcement ceremony the bid failed. He said yesterday – Day 331 – that he is now focusing on getting back to Japan by the end of next year.
• Yoshimoto (profile) and another of its comedians, Imada Koji (43), announced yesterday that they have withdrawn a lawsuit against publisher Kodansha. The lawsuit was filed after a story in the magazine “Shuukan Gendai” in April insinuated that Imada had sexually assaulted a woman. But it was dropped after the magazine published an apology on October 26 and paid Imada ¥5.5 million in damages last week.