First Budokan fan meeting of “New Map” to be held on New Year’s Day. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

First Budokan fan meeting of “New Map” to be held on New Year’s Day.

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What will they show at the Budokan for New Year’s?

Former “SMAP” members Goro Inagaki (50), Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (49), and Shingo Katori (46) will hold their first concert “NAKAMA to OSHOGATSU (New Year’s Eve): Happy New Year 2024! on January 1 and 2 next year.

The three left the former Johnny’s s. The project was launched on September 22, 2005, shortly after they left the former Johnny’s office. To commemorate their 6th anniversary in 2011, they decided to hold a fan club members-only event at the Budokan.

Under the name of “New Map,” they released songs such as “72” and “Ameagari no Step,” and held fan events in major cities throughout Japan from February to April ’19. They had an online, no-attendance live streaming show for the COVID-19 crisis, but from last December to May of this year, they held fan events and interacted with fans for the first time in a long time.

In the past, ABEMA has delivered special live broadcasts of its regular programs on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This time, however, since it is the 6th anniversary and the first time it will be held at the Budokan, there are whispers among those involved that ‘they are going to try to set something up starting from New Year’s.’ What will happen at the event is the focus of attention,” said a source from the record company.

The former Johnny’s office (now SMILE-UP.), to which the three belonged, is still facing a huge lawsuit against its founder, the late Johnny Kitagawa, for sexual assault. A new agent company, STARTO ENTERTAINMENT (hereinafter referred to as “STARTO”), has just been launched to serve as a receptacle for the talents belonging to the company. The former manager of “SMAP” and current head of the agency to which “New Map” belongs is Michitomo Iijima (65). Since she was at the heart of the former Johnny’s, some media outlets have attempted to interview her to ask her about her views, but she has never given any answers that touch the heart of the matter. An entertainment reporter said, “The three members of ‘Shinnin Chizu’ are former members.

The three members of ‘New Map’ have had a hard time appearing on TV programs since they left the old Johnny’s. It is as if the TV stations are trying to make them appear on TV programs. However, thanks in part to Iijima’s skill, they began to appear in commercials one after another that would have been the envy of the talent from the former Johnny’s. In the midst of this, the three members of “New Map” were forced to leave the group in ’19.

Then, in July ’19, it was revealed that the Fair Trade Commission had issued a warning to the former Johnny’s office on suspicion that the former Johnny’s had pressured the TV stations not to allow the three to appear in their commercials.

From there, the tide turned, and NHK and other major commercial broadcasters also began to take action against the three members of the group. The trend changed from there, and key commercial broadcasters, including NHK, began to use the three. For his part, Mr. Iijima seems to be avoiding making unnecessary comments on the plight of his old company because of the success of his business. The three members have not made any mention of the situation at press conferences or other events.

SMAP” broke up on New Year’s Eve in 2004 without any last performances. This year’s New Year’s Eve marks seven years since then. Fans still long for the five members to reunite and take the stage, even if it is only for one night.

Currently, the only former member of “SMAP” who remains with the former Johnny’s is Takuya Kimura (51), while Masahiro Nakai (51) went independent at the end of March ’20. Perhaps because of Nakai’s independence, Shingo Katori appeared as a guest on the first April 30 broadcast of “Matsumo to Nakai” (Fuji TV), a variety show in which Nakai and Hitoshi Matsumoto (60) of “Downtown” serve as MCs. Nakai and Katori’s first appearance together in six years became a topic of conversation.

It is said that Nakai will be at the Budokan event on New Year’s Day as a “payback” for Katori’s appearance on the program, and that former member and auto racer Katsuyuki Mori (49), who was reported to have met with the four members who had left Kimura behind on the day of the breakup, will also be there. In any case, there is likely to be a surprise plan that will be the best “New Year’s gift” for “SMAP” fans.

There is also a “ray of hope” for a “SMAP” reunion, which was thought to be impossible as long as Kimura belonged to the former Johnny’s. Kimura is expected to sign an agent contract with Johnny’s in the near future.

In an interview published in Bunshun Online, Jun Fukuda, 58, the newly appointed president of Start, the company with which Kimura is expected to sign an agency contract, mentions the possibility of a “SMAP” reunion. Fukuda said, “I think everyone should do what they want to do. Even if they leave the office, if they want to return to the office, they can return, and if they want to leave, they can leave. The problem is that until now we have not had that freedom. As long as it fits into our business model, we are free to do whatever we want,” he said, revealing that he intends to allow reunions.

It is said that the reason for the lack of a reunion is because Kimura and Katori do not get along, and if the two come together, the other members will naturally unite their hearts for a reunion,” said a TV station insider.

(TV station insider) Will there be any moves toward a reunion in the near future? First of all, it will be interesting to see what will happen at the Budokan event on New Year’s Day.

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The three members traveled from Morioka to Sendai, Fukushima, and Utsunomiya respectively for the stage greeting of the movie “Bastards and a Beautiful World”. Everywhere they went, the event was packed with fans waiting to see them. Kusanagi heads to Tokyo after the event in Sendai (April ’18).
Inagaki, always cool and at his own pace.
Katori, always smiling and cheering on his fans
Katori and Kusanagi next to each other on the move, playing with their phones in a friendly manner.
  • PHOTO Sota Shima (2nd, 5th), Ippei Hara (Inagaki), Shu Nishihara (4th)

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