Shingo Katori and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi Share Candid Talk on ‘SMAP Reunion’ Reality | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shingo Katori and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi Share Candid Talk on ‘SMAP Reunion’ Reality

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SMAP, the nationally beloved idol group that disbanded in 2016. With the dismantling of Johnny’s, there are rumors of a reunion.

“It’s unbelievable how candid they’re being.”

That’s what a producer from a major private broadcaster said.

Former SMAP member Shingo Katori made a VTR appearance on “Nichiyoubi no Hatsumimi Gaku” (TBS), broadcasted on May 19th. He openly discussed the behind-the-scenes of the tumultuous dissolution of SMAP in 2016.

Katori talked about his interactions with Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, who was present in the studio at the time:

“At that time, amidst discussions on what choices to make, Tsuyoshi’s words were particularly impactful for me. He said, ‘Okay, I’ll live on a southern island with Shingo.’ I replied, ‘Don’t joke around. This isn’t the time for that.’ But Tsuyoshi, saying that loudly, was serious.”

Reflecting further, Katori expressed gratitude for Kusanagi’s seemingly casual remark:

“During that time, when the media and various sources were reporting ‘Shingo Katori retiring’ or ‘Going abroad for studies,’ and I was resolute that I’ll continue, he invited me to a southern island. But it wasn’t a joke.

Because I seemed stuck and in distress, he suggested, ‘Let’s go to a southern island.’ He was serious about it. That sincerity is cool, isn’t it?”

Looking back, the momentum for all members of SMAP to go independent was nullified by Takuya Kimura’s decision to remain with Johnny’s office. This created an irreparable rift between Katori and Kimura.

Later, the late Johnny Kitagawa called Masahiro Nakai, Kusanagi, and Katori to urgently persuade them to reconsider. However, Katori declined his offer, leading to the subsequent events.

According to media insiders who covered the events at the time,

“Nakai resisted until the end to keep the group together, but Katori adamantly refused. Kusanagi, seeing Katori’s stance, empathized with his feelings.

At that time, things were really tense, so it was surprising to learn about the exchange about going to a southern island behind the scenes. I was really amazed.”

Kusanagi, upon hearing Katori’s words of gratitude, commented with emotion, 

“I don’t usually receive such compliments from him, so it really struck a chord with me.”

He continued, 

“There were tough times, times we had to overcome together. We’re friends who made life choices together. With Shingo-chan and Goro (Inagaki) by my side, things have changed in many ways, but I really feel happy now.”

The Johnny’s office, where SMAP was once based, dissolved last year due to the sexual harassment issue involving the late Johnny Kitagawa. It split into’SMILE-UP, which handles compensation operations, and STARTO ENTERTAINMENT, which manages talents and agency operations.

Rumors emerged at that time about the reunion of SMAP. With STARTO’s president, Atsushi Fukuda, hinting at a reunion, it seemed more feasible.

“Judging from Katori and Kusanagi’s current tone, it seems highly unlikely. SMAP is a thing of the past. All the members are actively pursuing new stages. There’s no benefit in reuniting and turning back the clock.” (Same producer as before)

Recently, TV writer Osamu Suzuki revealed in his book the behind-the-scenes of the public execution on the Fuji TV show “SMAP×SMAP,” which aired during the SMAP turmoil, where all members publicly apologized to Johnny Kitagawa during a live broadcast.

“Of course, I have received consent to write about it. In other words, among the parties involved, SMAP is history. While we may reminisce, I think the likelihood of them gathering again for activities is extremely low.” (Same producer as before)

Takuya Kimura, the only member who remained at the former Johnny’s office, has hardly spoken about the SMAP breakup. It’s not because he feels embarrassed, but because he’s already moved forward as an actor and solo singer.

Perhaps SMAP reunions have become something like an annual tradition.

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