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Japanese boyband SMAP deny split, apologise for causing “great concern”

By | Published on Tuesday 19 January 2016


Longstanding Japanese boyband SMAP have denied that they are going to split, though admitted that there had been a dispute with their management company Johnny & Associates, when discussing recent events on their weekly TV show yesterday.

As previously reported, four of the group’s five members reportedly threatened to leave the management firm after their direct manager, who has been with them throughout their almost three decade career, was forced to resign. Johnny’s had previously acknowledged in a statement that there were “negotiations taking place” with the group’s members, but gave no further details.

On the first edition, since the controversy, of ‘SMAP x SMAP’, the TV show the group have fronted since 1996, all five members appeared together to deliver a scripted speech denying that they were splitting up.

According to The Japan Times, they apologised for causing “great concern” and admitted that they had been close to breaking up, but made no direct reference to the news stories surrounding the rumours of their battle with Johnny & Associates.

However, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi did acknowledge that Takuya Kimura – the single member of the group who did not threaten to leave the management agency – “made it possible for us to apologise” to Johnny & Associates boss Johnny Kitagawa.

Although Kimura said that the five members of the group will “keep moving forward, no matter what”, it was not entirely clear at the end of their speech what the future holds. The Japan Times notes that although Shingo Katori said that “starting today, we, once again, want to make you smile”, none of them actually smiled while delivering their apology.

And despite them being back for good, a 25th anniversary SMAP tour due to begin in November has reportedly been cancelled.