2003 SMAP single tops chart after massive purchases by fans fearing group’s breakup


A single CD that the Japanese pop group SMAP released in 2003 ranked No. 1 on a Japanese hit chart Friday after fans alarmed by news of the group’s possible breakup launched a campaign to buy it to express their support for the band, the music information provider Oricon Inc. said Saturday.

“Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” (“The Only Flower in the World”), the most popular song by the evergreen male band, returned to the chart in ninth place on Jan. 14, the day after media reported SMAP was on the verge of breaking up, and continued to climb up on Oricon’s daily single ranking to reach the top spot on Friday.

Five other songs by SMAP, which formed in 1988, ranked within the top 100 singles on the latest chart.

The group has been a fixture in show business in Japan for more than 25 years, and the news of their potential breakup shook the nation. Although most members are now in their 40s, they are still considered a top male idol group.

SMAP members pledged to continue as a group during their weekly TV variety show on Monday and apologized to fans for causing them anxiety. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Cabinet ministers added their voices to the chorus of relieved fans in Japan and elsewhere the following day.