The announcement of the “Kohaku Uta Gassen” lineup was made yesterday. In a first for NHK’s annual New Year’s Eve live concert spectacular, this year’s show will feature a mother-daughter duet. Matsuda Seiko (49, photo left, profile) will appear for the first time in 10 years and teams up with her daughter, Kanda Sayaka (25, photo left). Now in its 62nd year, the show has previously featured only two parent-child duets – in 2005 Moriyama Ryoko (63) sang with her son Naotaro (35), and Hirahara Ayaka (27) was accompanied by her father Makoto (59) on saxophone.
Sayaka, whose father is actor Kanda Masaki (60), is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her showbiz debut and making her first Kohaku appearance. She declined to answer reporter’s question about whether she had told her father the news, but expressed her gratitude to her mother, saying “I couldn’t do this by myself. I’m so happy and she gives me great strength.” NHK chief producer Harada Hideki commented that the pair’s appearance is intended to emphasize the importance of family ties in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March, and they will choose a song based on that. The pair have performed together many times, though Sayaka only held her first live concert this summer, with her mother as producer.
This year’s lineup includes 55 acts, an increase of 11 from last year. Among the “highlights” is the debut and collaboration of popular Korean girl group Kara and young Ashida Mana (7, photo right), who had a breakthrough year. She became the youngest ever lead in a drama series, Fuji TV’s “Marumo no Okite,” and with co-star Suzuki Fuku (7, photo right) had a major hit with the “Maru Maru Mori Mori” theme song.
In announcing the 55-act Kohaku lineup, NHK took the unprecedented step of pointing out that no candidates had been turned down due to connections with organized crime. This came in the aftermath of an increased crackdown on such affiliations, with the case of Shimada Shinsuke’s forced retirement in particular drawing a lot of publicity.