Fans dub November “The Day that United SMAP”.

People who know, know: superstar J-pop boyband SMAP was originally made up of six members instead of five. Former member Katsuyuki Mori was in the band for eight years before he decided to leave the group and pursue motorcycle racing in 1996. He missed out on a lot; the band ended up becoming the biggest music sensation in Japanese history, with each of the members becoming immensely influential and prominent celebrities in television and movies as well as music, before they disbanded as a group in 2016.

But it seems like Mori was okay with that, because motorcycle racing had been a childhood dream, and is now a career that he’s maintained for the last 24 years. In fact, when he left SMAP, he promised his fellow members that he would become the top motorcycle racer in Japan, and on November 3, he fulfilled that promise by winning his first ever All-Japan Auto Race Championship.

After a thrilling race where Mori pulled to the front after a crash took out the two racers in front of him, an emotional Mori stood for an interview. In response to the question, “How do you feel having finally won the championship”? he could only respond, “I’m so happy I was finally able to fulfill my promise.”

▼ The video is set to start at the interview, but you can rewind to watch scenes from the race as well.

“I owe this to my friends and all my fans. I want to share (the joy) with my father, who has been my biggest supporter,” he said.

His former bandmates, in SMAP solidarity, expressed their congratulations on social media, and were each overjoyed to see their former bandmate succeed in his dreams. Shingo Katori, youngest member of the former group, who reunited with Mori for the first time in 21 years on the marathon TV program 72-jikan Terebi along with fellow SMAP members Goro Inagaki and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, posted a photo of their reunion on Instagram, with the caption:

“Mori made me cry again. First he made me cry when he left the band in 1996. Then again when we reunited for the first time in 21 years three years ago. And now once more when he became the top auto racer in all of Japan. Thank you for making me cry happy tears for the second time. Congratulations on becoming the best in Japan! Let’s meet soon!”

Kusanagi wrote on Twitter, “Mori, congratulations. I don’t know what to say. Dreams. Promises. Thanks for fulfilling them! You’re the coolest older brother ever.” Inagaki, Katori, and Kusanagi also released a joyful joint statement congratulating Mori on achieving his dream.

SMAP’s Takuya Kimura, who hadn’t been part of the reunion on 72-jikan Terebi, also expressed his congratulations. “We’ve all chosen our different paths and had our own successes,” he said through his agency, Johnny’s Entertainment. “I wish you good luck in the future, too!”

Remaining SMAP member Masahiro Nakai, who was so close to Mori that he sat with him during his exit interview when he left SMAP 24 years ago, also released a statement through his agency: “Mori~! Congratulations! You did it! I was a long road…and you experienced some major injuries…But I’m so glad you never gave up.”

SMAP fans were touched by the display of comradery and love between the members, and thus have dubbed November 3 “The Day that United SMAP”:

“Congratulations Mori-kun, for finally achieving your dreams and keeping your promise!”
“You gave me hope.”
“I love how his first words were about keeping his promise. His love for SMAP is just overflowing!”
“Maybe the magnificent story of SMAP will start and end with six members?”
“The fact that all the members expressed their congratulations really shows that even though they aren’t together anymore, they’ll always be SMAP.”

So there’s some touching news you to cheer you up if you’re feeling stressed. Whether you’re a SMAP fan or not, you can appreciate the sheer amount of love between all six members!

Source: Netlab, Kyodo News
Images: YouTube/Kawaguchi Auto Race Public Channel

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