The future of “Shonen-tai,” the symbol of Johnny’s named by Mr. Johnny, is finally in limbo due to Noriyuki Higashiyama’s confusion. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The future of “Shonen-tai,” the symbol of Johnny’s named by Mr. Johnny, is finally in limbo due to Noriyuki Higashiyama’s confusion.

No disbandment, no activity, no name change, what will happen now?

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Backstage at the “Again” musical. The production attracted a total audience of 100,000 people at three venues in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka (August ’89).

The existence of “Shonen-tai,” a unit of three members including Noriyuki Higashiyama (57), Issei Nishikori (58), and Katsuhide Uekusa (57), which is a symbol of the former Johnny’s office (now known as SMILE-UP.), is finally in the air.

Higashiyama, who became president of the company following the sexual assault scandal involving the company’s founder, Janney Kitagawa, announced his retirement from performing at the end of this year, but has since turned around and reportedly declined to become president of the new agent company, which he had planned to do. Nishikori and Uekusa left the group at the end of 2008, leaving the members in a disjointed state. However, “Shonen-tai,” which was a unit under the direction of Mr. Janney, has become a special case in that it has neither disbanded nor disappeared, and its name has remained in existence. However, there are no plans for the group to be active. For this reason, some have begun to question the existence of the group.

In the wake of the sexual assault scandal, the former Johnny’s office has changed its name and begun to reorganize itself. However, some in the entertainment and TV industries are wondering if it is safe for the Shonen-tai, a group created by Mr. Janney, to remain in a state of limbo. Furthermore, there are a number of unclear issues surrounding the unit, including the fundamental question of what will happen to Shonen-tai after Higashiyama retires.

Shonen-tai was formed in 1982. The following year, they won the Best New Artist Award at the Japan Record Awards, and from that year onward, they made their big breakthrough with eight consecutive appearances in the NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Singing Contest).

When Nishikori and Uekusa announced their departure, Johnny’s’s described the unit in an unusual way, calling it “the boys’ group that Johnny created and nurtured,” and commented, “We respect the wishes of the members and have decided to keep the name as their group from now on. He even went as far as to say that the group’s achievements were worthy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it was impressive that he emphasized that the group was treated differently.

It is said that Mr. Johnny’s called Shonen-tai, which he had nurtured with his own hands, his “masterpiece,” and they continued to play a central role in Johnny’s’s life. It is only natural that he would wonder if he could continue to do so.

There is a growing movement to reconsider related names that contain words associated with sexual assault. The word “shonen” is particularly dangerous, and a program by Junior (formerly Johnny’s Jr.) and others, the TV Asahi program “#Naked Boys,” just ended on November 4. Naturally, the name “Shonen-tai” would also be subject to name change debate, but since the “masterpiece” unit has not disbanded and is no longer active, it is still in a gray area, completely in limbo. The question of what to do with them now also involves Higashiyama’s departure, and those involved are likely to have their heads in the sand.

The question of what Higashiyama will do after his work at SMILE, a company dedicated to compensating victims, is expected to come up sooner or later.

After the completion of his work at SMILE, there will naturally be talk of resuming his entertainment activities. Nishikori commented in an interview with “Sankei Sports” on October 30, “I think Higashiyama has made up his mind” to express his sympathy for Higashiyama’s retirement announcement. Uekusa also commented in “Sports Hochi” on September 21, saying, “I want to sing the songs of the three of us together,” and thinking about their activities as Shonen-tai.

Will they consider changing their name, or will they let the group sleep? Or will they break up at some point? The “Shonen-tai” super-unit may slowly become a “negative legacy” created by Mr. Janney in the future.

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Won the Grand Prize at the ’93 Golden Arrow Awards. It is unclear why Higashiyama is absent (March ’94).
The situation was further complicated when Higashiyama declined to be the president of the agent company (September ’23).
On the night of Valentine’s Day, Uekusa came out of a love hotel in the suburbs of Chiba City after a secret meeting with the beautiful president. He stayed at the love hotel for nearly 10 hours that day (February ’22).
When directly interviewed by this magazine, she denied having a relationship with the beautiful president or going to a love hotel (March ’22).
  • PHOTO. Takeshi Kinugawa (1st), Shoichiro Tsuboi (2nd), Kazuhiko Nakamura (Higashiyama), Sayuki Saito (Uekusa)

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