On November 3, “Arashi” celebrated its 24th anniversary. However, fans may not be happy about it. Three years have passed since the group went on hiatus, and dark clouds are hanging over the group’s future.
On October 24, Kazunari Ninomiya (40) announced that he would be leaving the former Johnny’s office (now SMILE-UP.) to work independently, and on November 7 he reported that he had established a new company. Although Mr. Ninomiya has emphasized that he is still a member of “Arashi” even after his independence, we cannot shake off the impression that he has separated himself from the other members of the group.
The new form was to quit the office but not to leave the group. If this method is applied, it is conceivable that the other four members of “Arashi” will remain independent. TV station insiders are particularly concerned about Sho Sakurai (41).
Mr. Sakurai, who anchors the information program “news zero” (NTV), was harshly criticized for hardly mentioning the issue of sexual assault by Janie Kitagawa (87 years old) when it was widely covered. However, since Mr. Sakurai is both an anchor and a celebrity formerly affiliated with Johnny’s, it was difficult for him to make any in-depth comments. He has strong feelings about his job as a caster, so it is quite possible that he will become independent in order to fulfill his job. He will probably give his “answer” by the end of this year at the earliest, or by March next year at the latest, when the program is scheduled for renewal.
Some media reported that Sakurai would graduate as a newscaster in the spring of 2012. However, at NTV’s regular press conference held on October 23, she denied that she would be leaving, saying, “At this point, there is no talk of a change. Nippon TV is likely to continue to use Sakurai even if she goes independent.
Mr. Sakurai has been the anchor since the program began in 2006. He has become an indispensable presence on important occasions such as elections and coverage of the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. In addition, the program’s ratings increase on Mondays when he appears on the show, so Nippon TV would not want to let him go.
If Sakurai were to quit following Ninomiya, the entire office could be severely shaken. Arashi” will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. There are hopes that they will resume their activities in the anniversary year, but now that Ninomiya has started on a new path, the hurdle for the five members to get together has become higher. However, there still remains the possibility of restarting the project.
The key will be the agent contract. In the near future, the talent from the old Johnny’s will be transferred to a new company, and the individual talent or group that wishes to join will sign an agent contract with the new company. If we all sign an agent contract as “Arashi,” the five of us will be able to work together even if someone quits in the future. The agency does not want to give up the income from Arashi’s fan club membership, which is said to number 3 million, so I think they want to sign a contract somehow.
The entertainment industry insider noted that there are significant advantages for “Arashi” in signing an agency contract as a group.
The former entertainment industry insider said, “I think this is also ideal for Satoshi Ohno (42), who has been inactive in the entertainment industry since 2008. At one point, Mr. Ono felt that he had reached the end of his career as an idol, to the point where he considered retiring from show business. Agent contracts have the advantage of allowing talent to work freely without being tied to an agency. If we sign a group contract with a new company, I think we can work at our own pace as long as it doesn’t become a burden on the leader.”
Will “Arashi” be able to make their fans “thankful and excited” on the 25th anniversary of their debut next year?
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PHOTO： Yusuke Kondo