The five members of the popular group appeared sombre during their special television appearance last night. 

It’s been a tough week for SMAP fans in Japan and around the world, after the five-member boy band announced their intention to break up after over two decades together. The group made the shock announcement following the resignation of their long-time manager, Michi Ijima, after a dispute with production company J Dream, leaving Takuya Kimura as the only member to stay on with the band’s agency Johnny & Associates.

Now it appears that the band will be staying together, with the five SMAP members, Masahiro Nakai, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, and Shingo Katori appearing at the start of their weekly SMAPxSMAP variety show last night to make the live announcement.

Loosely translated, the appearance went as follows:

Takuya Kimura

“Today is January 18, 2016. Since last week, people have been worried about SMAP. We caused a lot of worry and trouble to a lot of people, for which we apologise. Under the circumstances, there appeared to be a possibility that SMAP might disintegrate in mid-air so the five of us have come here together because what’s more important than anything is that we keep you informed.”

Goro Inagaki

“I am terribly sorry for causing you all to worry about us. We want to carry on and, with your support, do our best for you in the future.”

Shingo Katori 

“I deeply apologise for worrying so many people. Starting today, we, once again, want to make you smile.”

Masahiro Nakai

“Through this, I’ve been able to strongly feel just how much support you give us. I am truly sorry. Please support us in the future.”

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi 

“I’ve realised a lot through everyone’s words. I am truly grateful. Kimura was the one who gave us the chance to apologise to Johnny (Johnny Kitagawa, president of Johnny’s talent agency). I am relieved that the five of us are able to stand here together today.”

Takuya Kimura

“Finally, whatever comes our way from now on, we are looking forward, and we will go on, only looking forward. Thank you.”

Confused? So were hundreds of their fans, who expressed that confusion on Twitter, given that the band didn’t officially address break-up rumours nor clearly deny that they were splitting up. The band did, however, emphasise their solidarity and their desire to move forward together, asking for continued support. Reading between the lines, Japanese journalists and commenters see SMAP’s announcement, and their apology to the head of Johnny’s talent agency, as a sure sign that the band will not be disbanding anytime in the near future.

To see the announcement in full, check out the clip below.

Source: Grape
Top Image: Twitter/@PETENSH10
Insert Images: Twitter/@yasatuba