Kohaku Gets a Headliner

Kuwata Keisuke

NHK have managed to snag at least one headline-worthy act for this year’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen.” When the lineup for the 61st annual New Year’s Eve song battle was announced last week, it was noticeably short of surprises or “medama” (“standout,” lit. eyeball) artists. But yesterday it was announced that Southern All Stars vocalist Kuwata Keisuke (54) would appear, just six months after he underwent surgery for esophageal cancer. It will be his first time to perform on the live concert as a solo artist. He is being billed as a “special guest,” as was legendary rocker Yazawa Eikichi (61) last year, in what will be his first public appearance since a concert by his wife and fellow SAS member, Hara Yuko (53), on July 4.