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Uproar highlights the difficulty for SMAP to break up

The uproar over news that mega pop group SMAP might disband drew cool reactions from the public over the past few days, with some posting messages on the Internet questioning the wisdom of making such a media fuss.

    Members of the general public are not necessarily convinced by the explanation that public opinion forced SMAP, a national icon, to abandon breaking up.

    There are views that the case developed into a social issue because ordinary news organizations treated the case not as entertainment news but social news.

    It was reported that the manager who looked after SMAP encouraged members of the pop group to leave Johnny & Associates, Inc. when she quit the talent agency to go freelance, but negotiations continued because Takuya Kimura, one of the group's key members, wanted to stay with the agency.

    Observations had been prevalent within the industry that the split of the group would be impossible because SMAP, the agency and the manager would all suffer losses from such a choice.

    However, it is only natural that the public thinks that media outlets made an excessive fuss over the case based on the view that the public does not want SMAP to disband.

    So how about focusing on the case from the viewpoint of whether SMAP has the freedom to disband itself?

    It is only natural that members of SMAP want to take a break as junior pop units belonging to Johnny & Associates, such as Arashi and V6, are proving very popular. However, SMAP members apparently find it difficult to disband their unit as thousands of people are living off the group's activities. Moreover, SMAP has been named as a supporter of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. News reports should have highlighted middle-aged idols' agony over their heavy responsibilities.

    In any case, it was difficult for SMAP members to split and disband their unit based on their own desires. (By Hiroshi Kawasaki, Expert Senior Writer)

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