Masahiro Nakai, the former leader of disbanded all-male idol group SMAP, said Friday he will leave talent agency Johnny & Associates Inc. in late March, ending a relationship that has lasted over 30 years.
The 47-year-old said at a news conference in Tokyo that he has had difficulty motivating himself to take on new challenges after SMAP broke up in 2016 and that he has established his own office to manage his work.
“I’m basically on my own,” said Nakai, who has been hosting a number of TV shows since the break-up. “I thought I needed to put myself in a new environment.”
SMAP was so popular that shortly before they disbanded in 2016, more than 370,000 people signed online petitions from Japan and abroad begging the group to reconsider.
Asked whether SMAP will get back together, Nakai said it is still a possibility.
Three of the five-member group — Goro Inagaki, 46, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, 45, and Shingo Katori, 43 — formed Atarashii Chizu (New Map) after leaving the agency in 2017.
But Takuya Kimura, 47, one of SMAP’s most popular members, is staying with Johnny’s, which is one of the most powerful agencies in Japanese show business. Its founder Hiromu Kitagawa died last July at the age of 87.