The Johnny’s office, which produced the group, dropped its name on October 16 due to the sexual assault scandal involving the late founder, Johnny Kitagawa. While the public is looking at the former Johnny’s with a critical eye, a comment made by a member of NEWS is causing a stir.
“During a press conference held on October 2, the new president, Noriyuki Higashiyama, announced the name change to SMILE-UP. This company will only compensate the victims, and a new agent company has been established to handle talent management and other operations.”
The former Johnny’s office has thus chosen to make a fresh start, but just then, the careless words of one of its talents caused controversy. What caught the attention of the public was NEWS’s concert at Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa Prefecture on the same day (the concert started at 12:00 p.m.). At this time, fellow office mate Yuichi Nakamaru of KAT-TUN came to see the performance, and the NEWS members introduced him during the MC time.
As this was going on, Shigeaki Kato asked, “Can I mention Nakamaru-kun’s name? Isn’t he on the ‘NG list’?” This was apparently a reference to the furore surrounding the press conference on the second day.
“After the press conference, NHK programs and the NHK NEWS WEB news site reported that an “NG list” had been created with the faces of certain reporters to prevent them from being named to the list. The company that was entrusted by the office to manage the press conference reportedly brought this list to the venue, causing a firestorm on the Internet. We are not involved in the creation of the leaked documents, nor do we decide which reporters are not to be nominated.”
Because of the timely nature of the topic, amused fans posted a transcript of Kato’s remarks on X (formerly Twitter). When it quickly spread, some X users said,
“I’m not anti-Kato, but it’s not funny to make a joke about the NG list during the MC at a live show. Don’t say unnecessary things.”
“It’s not something that should be said in your position.”
“Can’t you even tell the difference between a topic you’re allowed to mention and a topic you’re not? I’m appalled.”
NEWS’s free talk didn’t stop there, as they also exploded with their “love for Johnny’s” at the Hiroshima Green Arena concert on March 15, which started at 5:30 p.m.
“According to a fan’s post on social networking sites, one member, Takahisa Masuda, loudly proclaimed that he was “born and raised in Johnny’s.” He shouted, “The spirit of Johnny’s will be immortal forever,” and even wrote “Johnny’s life” on his hand. He also said that he wished to be featured on the Internet news.”
Masuda is the most veteran of the three, having joined the office in 1998, when he was in the sixth grade. He has spent more than half of his life with Johnny’s, which may be why he revealed his complicated feelings. To begin with, the policy of eliminating anything with the name “Johnny’s” to indicate a break with Mr. Johnny was a decision made by President Higashiyama and others at the office. Netizens who learned of Masuda’s comment said,
“Masuda of NEWS must not be thinking about the feelings of the victims at all.”
“Masuda-san, do you have any idea why Johnny’s had to change its name? I hope you’re careful about what you say.”
“If you say that, I feel sorry for Higashiyama-san, who is trying to cut off Mr. Janney with all his heart and soul.”
He was so disappointed. Since this is a sensitive issue, it would be wiser for them to just work solemnly on their own activities for now.