Hey guys–huge Downtown/Matsumoto fan over here. I watch Gaki no Tsukai, WDT, and Knight Scoop every week. This news has been really hard for me to swallow. I speak Japanese and live in Japan, so I can perhaps give some insight as well.
As Ernie mentioned, Japan is certainly divided on the matter. As Arlekin said, cancel culture is in full swing in the US, so one accusation can ruin (at best tarnish) someone’s career (anyone remember Louis CK? or Aziz Ansari?). My fear was that the initial accusation would spell the end of Matsumoto and Downtown as a TV presence. Hamada and Matsumoto both turned 60 last year (the traditional “retirement” year in Japan), and with that milestone approaching I feared a retirement announcement. It’s easy to fathom how an accusation like this could push someone teetering on that decision into that direction.
But Matsumoto mentioned on his X account that he intends to fight, and denounced the claims as “baseless.” This tells me not only that he believes he can win, but that he had no intention of quitting entertainment anytime soon–making the suspension of activities all the more frustrating. An expert opinion I viewed said that if the case proceeds smoothly, we could expect Matsumoto back on TV in 1 year AT BEST, but that it could easily take 3 (!!) years.
The Japanese public’s opinion on the matter seems much more forgiving than the prevalent attitudes in the US. I’ve certainly seen some who are saying he should quit, that he’s despicable, and that this is finally an opportunity for lesser-known geinin to rise in his absence. (Side note: I do not share this opinion. While I like many other geinin, I do not believe ANYONE to be on the level of Matsumoto. He is one in a billion. He is irreplaceable.)
Most people, however, seem to take a more rational approach. “Let’s figure this out. Once it’s resolved and if he’s not culpable, let’s get him back on TV,” is a sentiment I am seeing a lot of.
And, many social media commenters have spoken out in his defense, called the claims ridiculous, and have even wondered if Japanese TV/ratings can “survive” without Matsumoto.
As far as I’ve seen, most other geinin have been outwardly, or at least implicitly supportive of Matsumoto. Kanpei Hazama said he has “no clue what this is all about”.
Personally, I want to see this put behind us and Matsumoto back in the saddle. 1-3 years without him seems too hard to bear.
I haven’t heard definitively about what they are doing for Gaki or WDT in the meantime, but there was talk that Hamada may continue them without Matsumoto for now. The Matsumoto-centric shows will be put on hiatus. For Knight Scoop, I read that the segments they previously recorded with Matsumoto WILL broadcast as planned on 1/12, but they haven’t decided what to do with the next batch of segments (originally scheduled to be recorded on 1/19), or what to do after that (in terms of replacing Matsumoto as Kyokuchō, proceeding without him, or putting the show on hold, etc…) I read a comment saying it’d be cool if Hamada took his place for the interim. I actually think that would be cool
Here’s hoping this gets resolved soon.