TOKYO, (Xinhua) — Japan’s popular idol group Sports Music Assemble People, or SMAP, announced on Sunday that it will disband on Dec. 31.
All five members of the group, Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Goro Inagaki and Shingo Katori, will remain with their current agency Johnny & Associates Inc., but will focus on solo careers, said the agency.
The move came after a reported disaccord within the group this January when the group’s long-time manager Michi Ijima resigned after a feud with the agency’s leadership.
Four of the five SMAP members decided then to leave the agency to follow their manager, while one pledged to stay.
The group later apologized to the fans and said they would stay together. The decision was hailed by fans and even politicians including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was quoted as saying, “It is good that they will stay together, as that is what their fans wished for.”
The agency said on Sunday that some of the SMAP members still opted to disband, leading the agency to agree.
SMAP was formed in 1988 with six members, although Katsuyuki Mori left the group in 1996. The band debuted with their first single in September 1991, and went on to put out a number of hit songs.
The members have also had separate careers including in TV dramas and movies, and have been helping to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.