On December 23, SMAP’s agent announced that the group turned down a request from NHK to appear on this year’s Kohaku Uta Gassen. Instead of making their final appearance as a group on the show, which airs the same day they disband after being together for 25 years, their final appearance will be on the final episode of SMAP x SMAP. The show’s finale airs on December 26, after 20 years on the air.
In a letter addressed to the producers of Kohaku Uta Gassen released the same day by Johnny & Associates, the members of SMAP expressed thanks for the request and said “each of us thought hard about how our last stage should be.”
“We came to the conclusion we would like to make SMAP x SMAP our last stage because we have worked with its staff for the past 20 years and all five of us have appeared on it regularly,” said the letter dated December 19. The names of SMAP and its five members were written at the end of the letter.
However, the “last stage” is likely to be a taped one, as show business sources said the members will not appear live on the final episode of the variety show.
NHK’s public relations department commented that although NHK is disappointed by the decision, the broadcaster is grateful for SMAP having appeared on Kohaku 23 times in the past and added excitement to the show.
After Johnny & Associates announced in August that SMAP will disband at the end of this year, NHK President Momii Katsuto said, “SMAP is huge. Naturally, I want them to appear” in reference to Kohaku Uta Gassen. He also said he was willing to personally negotiate with the band’s representatives to make it happen.