NHK came close to losing one of its top stars for tonight’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen.” Wada Akiko (60), a regular performer on the annual New Year’s Eve song contest for more than three decades, was injured in a traffic accident on her way to rehearsals at the NHK studios in Shibuya on Wednesday. She suffered injuries to her neck and back but soldiered through much of the rehearsals nonetheless before being taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance. She is said to have suffered cervical and lumbar sprains and requires about 10 days rest to recover. A consummate pro, Wada plans to fulfill her commitment to the live broadcast. But as leader of the Kohaku female red team, she would normally be on stage a lot even when not singing. NHK say they will consider her role in the show depending on her condition.
The accident happened on Wednesday afternoon as the Mercedes in which Wada was riding in the back seat was hit from behind while waiting at a signal to enter the NHK car park. The driver of the other car, a man in his 30s, said he mistook the accelerator for the brake. Wada was involved in a traffic accident in February 2000, in which she suffered a broken leg.