As previously reported, the future of SMAP is currently unknown. All of the members, except Kimura Takuya, are trying to leave Johnny & Associates after the resignation of their manager Iijima Michi. The company is currently trying to work things out, basically admitting that the rumors are true.
But why did Kimura Takuya stay? According to Sankei Sports, his wife, Kudo Shizuka, is the reason. She is said to have told him to stay with Johnny & Associates.
Last year, Shukan Bunshun interviewed Kitagawa Mary, Vice President of Johnny & Associates and sister of its founder, president, and namesake Johnny. When asked about the rumored factions within the company and the rivalry between her daughter, Fujishima Julie, and Michi over who would be the next company president, Mary exploded. She said that there are no factions within the company, nor is there a rivalry because Julie is set to be the president after her uncle. Mary added that Michi would be thrown out of the company if there was an issue.
This interview upset Michi and led to her wanting to leave and start her own company. She spoke with the members of SMAP, and at the end of November, they agreed to leave with her, except for Takuya. He had mixed emotions on the subject.
He then spoke to his wife on the topic. Shizuka told her husband to stay with the company because she feels indebted to Mary for not allowing the media coverage of their 2000 marriage to be excessive. She also told Takuya to think of their 2 daughters, ages 12 and 14. He made the decision to not leave Johnny & Associates in mid-December.
At a Kohaku Uta Gassen rehearsal on December 30, Takuya was asked what should people look forward to from SMAP in 2016. He said that he was unsure. He is now trying to reconcile his possibly ex-group mates and his current company. They were thinking of staying with Johnny & Associates earlier this month, and Michi said they should. Mary and her lawyer tried to get them to stay as well, but in the end they decide to leave the company.
Michi is set to leave Johnny & Associates at the end of February. If she retires as opposed to continuing her career in entertainment, SMAP could stay with the company.
If SMAP disbands, they may disappear from television as soon as April, since it will be difficult to use their name. The members who want to leave can only leave in October though, since their contract runs through September.
But then Sponichi Annex is reporting that Michi is retiring, as opposed to continuing her career outside of Johnny & Associates. With no reason to stay loyal to her still, SMAP could stay whole and with the company. But this could be difficult still since Nakai Masahiro, Inagaki Goro, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, and Katori Shingo have shown themselves to be disloyal to the company.
In related news, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi appeared on 2 TV Asahi morning shows today to promoted his new drama on the channel, “Specialist”, which premieres tonight. His appearances on “Good! Morning” and “Hatori Shinichi Morning Show” were his first since the scandal broke. He did not comment on SMAP’s current situation.
Also, fans around the world have come together to try to push the sales of SMAP’s 2003 hit “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” past the 3 million sales mark. The song’s current sales stand around 2.58 million. Fans are taking to Twitter and using the hashtags “#Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana”, “#Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana Kobai Undo”, and “#SMAP wa Owarasenai” to push the campaign. There are tweets in support of the campaign in several languages other than Japanese, including English, Korean, and Mandarin. The campaign is working though. Since its inception, several physical and online music stores have sold out of the CD. Undeterred, fans have been signing up for waitlists for it, so that when its in stock again, they can get a copy.