So...SMAP isn't breaking up?!

Good morning everyone,

Well, if you haven't noticed by snowed last night...a lot. It may continue to snow for a bit, but it should stop later today. The high today will be around 5C and tomorrow will get up to 7C with a mix of sun and clouds and the highs all week will stay around 7C or 8C.

I guess a lot of SMAP fans let out a collective sigh of relief Monday night when the veteran boy band announced their plans to stick together amid speculation that they were on the verge of breaking up.

At last night's TV appearance on the weekly “SMAP X SMAP,” the unit’s members, dressed in dark suits, bowed down deeply and tersely apologized for causing their fans “great concern.”

In the carefully scripted speech that lasted less than five minutes, the idols — most of whom are in their 40s now — made no direct reference to recent news reports that they were about to disband. They emphasized their solidarity and asked their fans to continue their support.

It was their first public appearance since news of the possible disbanding surfaced last week.

“Starting today, we, once again, want to make you smile,” member Shingo Katori said — though, noticeably, none of the members smiled during the announcement.

“I’m relieved that five of us are here together,” Tsuyoshi Kusanagi said.

“We will keep moving forward, no matter what,” Takuya Kimura said.

The five were able to come together because, Kusanagi revealed, Kimura “made it possible for us to apologize” to Johnny Kitagawa, the octogenarian president of the powerful talent agency, Johnny & Associates.

A story emerged last week in which Katori, Kusanagi, Masahiro Nakai, and Goro Inagaki were reportedly considering leaving Johnny & Associates after their longtime female manager, was pressured to resign amid a feud with the daughter of the owner. Kimura alone intended to stay with the agency, according to reports.

Kimura, in diplomatic terms, acknowledged during the live announcement that the danger of SMAP splitting had arisen, but he did not elaborate.

On social media, some people were quick to criticize the speech, which they said sounded forced and, some thought, was ambiguous about their future.

“Are they going to break up or what? They didn’t make that super clear,”.

“Believe me, they were forced to say what they said. That was not their true feelings. That was not SMAP,” the fan said.

“They are only here because they apologized to the president?” asked another Twitter user. “It’s almost like they are being forced to pledge allegiance to their agency on a national television network.”

Monday’s TV appearance seemingly brought closure to the week-long speculation that dominated headlines nationwide and left millions of SMAP fans across the globe on tenterhooks.

The four members’ departure from Johnny & Associates would almost certainly have resulted in the breakup of SMAP, whose songs have frequently topped the charts and whose popularity has spanned generations.

Despite their entrance into middle age, the members are still fixtures on TV, radio and commercials and are reportedly worth ¥20 billion.

When the quintet’s disbanding appeared imminent, a movement emerged among fans on social media to demonstrate their loyalty to the band by buying CDs of SMAP’s best-known single, “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana.”

As a result, on Friday, the 2003 song reportedly jumped to No. 9 on the Oricon music ranking charts.

Call me a skeptic, but the only message I got from all of that is that Johnny & Associates has a stranglehold grip on the Japanese music scene and continues to wield you think I'm being too cynical?

Have a great day!

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