Understanding the reach of a Japanese political dynasty

Giapewe
2 min readMay 18, 2023

Shot seemingly in mid-March, before the authorities got serious about stay-at-home directives, the May 12 installment of the Nippon TV variety show “Kayo Surprise” featured three male celebrities — Yoshizumi Ishihara, Kazushige Nagashima and Daigo — frolicking in the seaside environs of Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, where Ishihara grew up. The thread connecting these three men is that they’re all from illustrious families, which in itself is not a novelty. These days, it’s probably harder to find a TV personality that doesn’t have a famous forebear.

Ishihara’s father is novelist-cum-politician Shintaro Ishihara, while Nagashima’s father is Shigeo Nagashima, one of the most beloved baseball players in Japanese history. Yoshizumi Ishihara and Kazushige Nagashima are both in their 50s and have cultivated media images distinct from their families. So has Daigo, who is always described as a musician and TV personality and only goes by his given name (his surname is Naito). His maternal grandfather is the late Noboru Takeshita, Japan’s prime minister from 1987 to 1989. Now 42, Daigo has been a TV fixture for more than 15 years, during which he has developed an on-air persona that is part rock god, part mischievous slacker.

In April, Daigo’s wife of four years, actress Keiko Kitagawa, announced on her official website that she was expecting her first child in the fall. Daigo dutifully updated his blog to note the happy occasion, apologizing for talking about such a matter while Japan faces “hardship,” but adding that he will keep his wife and child safe by being careful. As Nikkan Gendai Digital pointed out in its coverage of the announcement, Daigo did not use his patented comical diction, which relies on English-Japanese puns, but stuck to proper Japanese. The article repeated rumors that have been circulating since last year, saying that Daigo’s marriage was on the rocks and he was living apart from Kitagawa at his parents’ house in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

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