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Ailing ex-SMAP leader Masahiro Nakai to take 1 month leave

Masahiro Nakai is seen in Tokyo's Minato Ward in this February 2020 file photo. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

TOKYO -- Masahiro Nakai, an entertainer and former leader of the now-defunct popular Japanese boy band SMAP, is taking a break from his showbiz activities for about a month to rest, his agency has announced.

    According to the agency's Nov. 4 post on its website, Nakai "suffered poor health last month and took some days off. He subsequently returned to work, but after discussions among doctors at the hospital who have since been examining him, staff involved and Nakai himself, it was decided that he will take a roughly one-month hiatus from his activities to rest."

    The agency continued, "He is staying fully positive."

    Nakai, 50, was absent from a weekly TV show he anchors twice in a row in October due to sickness. In July, he canceled his scheduled head role for a music show due to acute appendicitis.

    During the weekly show aired on Nov. 5, Nakai once again referred to his upcoming break, saying, "As you can see, I've become a bit skinnier. As I'm in way weaker shape both physically and in terms of muscle strength than before, it seems it'll take about a month to get myself in shape including rehabilitation."

    With regard to the specific reason for his rest, Nakai said, "I'd like to leave that question unanswered. So I want everyone to be left up in the air in understanding the situation. I don't want to say what happened. I'll let you know when I can talk about it in a humorous manner."

    (Japanese original by Yuka Matsubara, Cultural News Department)

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