• Kyodo

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A group of avid fans of SMAP has collected 373,515 signatures in Japan and abroad to petition the pop group’s members to change their mind about breaking up at the end of this year.

The group, called 5 SMILE, submitted the signatures to SMAP’s agent, Johnny & Associates Inc., in Tokyo on Sunday.

In accepting the petition, the talent agency issued a document stating it “will convey, without fail, your wishes to the members” of the now middle-aged boy band formed in 1988.

In the document, the agency, which announced in August that SMAP will break up on Dec. 31, also said that prior to the announcement it tried to have the members change their mind about disbanding, proposing a “direction for the group’s future activities so it can continue to exist.”

“But we failed to break their determination and made an agonizing decision to accept the fact that the group’s continued existence is difficult,” it said.

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