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Mob Influence on Entertainment: HK vs. Japan

The most interesting thing about this Edison Chen scandal — besides the pornographic pictures of celebrities traded around in the name of journalism — is the open discussion of how the Triads may dole out extralegal punishment upon Mr. Chen for bringing such disgrace upon their Hong Kong Entertainment world. This is not idle banter: the president of Emperor Entertainment Group (EEG) and Edison’s former boss Albert Yeung apparently has well-known ties to Chinese organized crime. Even the New York Times today made a note of organized crime involvement within the Hong Kong industry.

Although the Japanese industry is equally rumored to be funded by organized crime, I wonder why there is less open discussion of this fact in either the Western or Japanese press. Mainstream Japanese magazines rarely ever openly talks about the most conspicuously mob-linked “Don of the Japanese Entertainment World” Mr. S*** (ex-chauffeur to mob-linked LDP politician Hamada Kouichi) in the same way as Albert Yeung. Perhaps the international range of the Triads’ financial dealings, especially now since they are investing in Canada, have put them more on the radar than yakuza-backed entertainment companies in Japan, which intentionally stay small in size and scope to avoid being conspicuous. The Mr. S noted above barely appears from a Google Image search, whereas Albert Yeung comes up pretty quickly since he seems to be a public figure. The Japanese guys behind the curtain keep a low profile. They don’t want to be household names.

Interesting parallel though: both Hong Kong and Japan have mob-backed entertainment industries focused on artists within “management companies.” In the past, I have tried to show through data that this industrial organization leads to much more stable artistic standards than markets with “free agents” artists like in the United States (artists directly make deals with labels rather than become employees of middle-men management companies). Historically, “entertainment” in Asia (and elsewhere for that matter) was a risky and low-class venture best funded by organized crime, so I understand why there are still links today. However, is there something about management companies in particular that make them a good opportunity for money laundering and illegal racketeering?

W. David MARX
February 14, 2008

8 Responses

  1. nelnel Says:

    ALbert’s EEG is one of the biggest entertainment conglomorates in Hong Kong. They have a stable of some of the biggest stars in the HK entertainment industry. They are engaged in music distribution as well as film production. Not many companies in Hong Kong engage in both music and film. It is usually one or the other. In essence, there really is no need for a middle-men management if you are an artist under EEG, because they run everything from music to film. They don’t farm their artists to other record labels like Sony, they have their own in house label called EEG. Moreover, EEG is listed on the Hang Seng exchange and is a public traded stock. Basically, Mr. Yeung has built a very legitimite business and as CEO he should not feel any need to keep a low profile.

    The traid involvement as most Hong Kong residents will believe is real lacks really any hard evidence to back it up. More reason for Albert to be able to acts like a normal citizen. In fact, which traid organization Albert belongs to is not known. At least, the CEO of China Star Entertainment Heung Wah Keung is known to have ties with Sun Yee On which his father founded; although he has since said he is not part of the family business.

    There have been occasions where Albert has flexed his Triad muscle. Most notably when Eric Tsang, a well known comedian made a joke about one of EEG’s artiste (Joey Yung) on tv. The following night, while at a club he was beaten by men with flashlights.

    Another point of interest is Jackie Chan’s involvement with Albert Yeung. Jackie’s JCE entertainment LTD, a film production company is a subdivision of Emperor Motion pictures. There has been speculation whether Jackie has traid ties, as he is known as “big brother” in the Entertainment circle and many entertainment sources refer to him as that. Such a nickname is usually used only for people who are Triads.

    Traids are not just in the entertainment business. They are also in fixed income, such as bonds. Once again no real hard evidence to back up this claim but it did come from a pretty reliable source who is in the financial sector.

  2. nelnel Says:

    In the end I think EEG’s boss Albert Yeung is angry because Edison Chen messed with his business and his family. Pictures of Albert’s seminude niece, whom Edison is dating is among the pics. Also, pictures of Edison engaging in sex with one of the members of TWINS, Gillian Chung; pretty much ruins the Twins’ image of innocence and purity. Edison will most likey be blacklisted from HK’s entertainment circle, if he isn’t beaten into a coma.

    well at least Edison always has his streetwear business to fall back on. Unless the likes of Hiroshi Fujiwara and the rest of the Ura-Harajuku crew blacklist him as well.

  3. W. David MARX Says:

    Thanks for adding those notes.

    As far as I have seen, this story has been totally blacked out in the Japanese media and even gossip internet sites.

  4. Aceface Says:

    “I wonder why there is less open discussion of this fact in either the Western or Japanese press.”

    There was 50 years ago.When Tsuruta Kouji refused going on a tour with Misora Hibari,an offer he shouldn’t have refused from then-don of Yamaguchi-gumi Taoka Kazuo.

    “Mr.S..(ex-chauffeur to mob-linked LDP politician Hamada Kouichi)”

    Hamada was a yakuza back in the day,I wouldn’t surprise he still have some link with them.

    I met Hamada back in 1997 during Chiba mayoral election.We were in the waiting room of an LDP candidate and Hamada showed up and introduced himself.He has very friendly smile and look you into the eye when he talks.His hands were so soft like an infant and he showed none such big-shot like attitude which are original to many LDP guys,but calm and gentle manner that many Yakuza boss show when they are interviewed by media people(Hamada spoke to me in 敬語 all through 25 minuites of our conversation).

    Since Ediosn Chang already starred in Japanese movie(2005′s “Under the Same Moon” with freshly out from the ER,Kubozuka Yosuke)and had role as Japanese character three times in three years and speaks semi-fluent Japanese,Perhaps he shuld come here to pursue the rest of his career under the protection of Mr.Suhou.

    Kind of Off topic
    I was surprised to find Yusef Turk,the wrestler was working as secretary when Mr.Subou was a chauffeur.

    Turk is a second generation of Tartar exiles came to Japan in the 30′s and his name popped up when I was doing the research on Yoyogi Mosque in 1994.
    At the time the poperty of the real estate has been sold off to somebody else from Kazan Turk society(oprganized by descendent of ethnic Tartar and Bashikir exiles in Japan.) by the hand of Yusef.
    The property was recovered only after the Turkish and Saudi government weigh in.

  5. M-Bone Says:

    I think that Aceface should be made a ningen kokuhou. These posts are fantastic.

  6. Mulboyne Says:

    Have you ever seen a copy of Dan Ikeda’s book? I confess the first I heard of it was in the recent reports of his death.


  7. Aceface Says:

    There is an interview on him in Yoshida Go吉田豪’s collection of interviews in BUBKA magazine “Zoku-Ningen Kokuhou続・人間コク宝” that came out last October.Probably the last interview of Dan Ikeda is there.Interesting read.

    Ikeda was the band master for “All Star Family Song Competiotionオールスター家族対抗歌合戦”,a program that celebrities bring their family to sing Karaoke infront of the jury.So Ikeda had family-man like impression in me and gave a huge shock when that book came out.

    I think you could find a copy or two in ”ゾッキ台”(100 yen sales wagon you see infront of shops),but haven’t seen any recently in Jonbocho.
    But 300000yen for a copy? No way.

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