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Japanese boyband SMAP to split after 25 years

By | Published on Monday 15 August 2016


Japanese management company Johnny & Associates announced that longstanding boyband SMAP will split at the end of the year, via a statement faxed to journalists yesterday. Maybe the continued popularity of fax machines in Japan is something we can talk about another time.

As previously reported, it was rumoured earlier this year that some members of the long serving outfit were planning to leave Johnny’s, which brought them together in the late 80s, and in doing so bring an end to the group. They then made a fairly miserable looking statement on their weekly TV show days later denying that this would happen. Speculation continued, but the management firm’s founder Johnny Kitagawa said in an interview in May that there was “no possibility of disbandment”.

In the new statement, Johnny & Associates said that negotiations behind the scenes had been ongoing since the news of a potential split broke at the beginning of the year. It said that the disarray in the group had made it very difficult to continue with promotional activities, leading to the cancellation of TV appearances in July. The group were offered the opportunity to go on a brief hiatus, but responded that they would “rather disband than take a break”.

The statement adds that it “was not a unanimous choice by the members”. Presumably this means that Takuya Kimura remained the one member of the group not keen on bringing an end to their 25 year career – the band having acknowledged his continuing loyalty to their management company in their glum televised statement earlier in the year.

In a later statement of his own, Kimura said that the split “couldn’t be more regrettable”, according to The Japan Times, but added that “under the current situation … we couldn’t do anything, either a 25th anniversary concert or other activities, unless all five of us got together”.

His soon to be former bandmate Masahiro Nakai also gave a statement, apologising to fans, saying: “We have caused you troubles, worried you, and we owe you much. We are really sorry for creating this situation. We apologise”.

Although the four members of the group who instigated the split reportedly threatened to leave Johnny & Associates earlier this year, after their direct manager was forced to resign from the company, all five of them will remain on the company’s books as solo artists.