Asian News 6/7

Kanzaburo Audit

Nakamura Kanzaburo, Japan’s most famous kabuki actor, was cited by tax authorities in late May for failing to declare about 70 million yen (about $580,000) in income for the years 2003 through 2005.

The 51-year-old stage star said May 21 through his agent that he was aware of the audit. Most of the undeclared income was in the form of gifts from fans on the occasion of his inheriting the name "Kanzaburo" in 2005. Nakamura was in the United States when the statement was released to the media.

"I have no idea what’s being talked about," the message said. "I’ve finished paying my taxes.

Upon his return to Japan, Nakamura was more humble during a press conference.

He said he had no intention of hiding the gift money despite media reports that implied he still had a lot of it socked away somewhere.

He said he intended to pay all back taxes and penalties. However, he placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of his accountant, whom he fired as a result of the audit.


Thai Puppeteer Yangkhiawsod Dies

Sakorn Yangkhiawsod, one of the last surviving practitioners of traditional Thai puppet theatre, died May 22 in Bangkok.

Sakorn, 85, was the founder of the famous Joe Louis Puppet Theatre, the only troupe of theatrical puppets still performing on a daily basis in Thailand. "Joe Louis" was Sakorn’s English nickname.

The puppeteer’s children will take over the management of the theatre, which is one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions.


Bae Jae Chul On the Mend

Two years ago, Bae Jae Chul was considered one of the most promising tenors in the world of international opera. The South Korean tenor belonged to a German opera company and was performing "Don Carlo" when he felt something in his throat. A German doctor found he had thyroid cancer and though the operation was successful, Bae’s vocal cords were cut in the process.

Bae’s many fans in Korea and Japan were devastated, and one, Japanese music producer Totaro Wajima wondered if he could help.

Wajima flew to Germany and brought the 37-year-old singer back to Japan, where he consulted with Dr. Nobuhiko Isshiki, who was able to repair Bae’s vocal cords using surgery.

But while the operation restored Bae’s speaking voice, he did not have proper control over the small muscles necessary for tone and pitch control.

Consequently, he is now under the care of Dr. Shigeki Aida, who specializes in voice maintenance for opera singers and actors.

Using a combination of massage and electrical stimulation, Aida is optimistic that Bae will be able to sing again, possibly in as little as six months.

"I appreciate the warm support I have received from Japan," Bae told Kyodo News Service.