Artist News Management & Funding

Drama as rift forms between Japan’s biggest boyband and their management company

By | Published on Thursday 14 January 2016


Japan’s most successful and longest-serving boyband SMAP are rumoured to be on the verge of splitting, following reports that four of its five members have left the management company behind the pop franchise, Johnny & Associates.

Newspaper Nikkan Sports reported news of the split on Tuesday, although Johnny & Associates said in a statement later that negotiations were still ongoing. The apparent rift comes after the resignation of the group’s long-time manager Iijima Michi from the management firm.

Formed in 1988, SMAP have enjoyed a great deal of chart success over their career, scoring their first number one in 1994 with the single ‘Hey Hey Thanks For Your Business’ and since selling over 35 million records. Though the group’s longevity is probably more to do with their TV careers than anything else, the group having fronted weekly show ‘SMAP x SMAP’ since 1996.

They also have numerous product endorsement deals in their home country, with everything from videogames to their own line of convenience store snacks, and enjoy a strong following in other neighbouring countries. However, with most of the band now in their 40s, the time remaining on their career as a group has long been in question.

In a statement, the management company said: “Some news organisations are currently reporting on the independence issue of some of the SMAP members and also the resignation of their head manager. It is true that there are currently discussions and negotiations taking place. However, we can not answer any more inquiries about this issue presently”.

There has been speculation over whether or not the four departing members of the group could maintain some of their success without Johnny & Associates. A highly powerful company in the Japanese entertainment industry, it’s quite possible that brands and TV companies would shun the performers in order to retain access to other successful (and younger) acts on the agency’s roster, like Arashi and Sexy Zone.