In her statement, Shimabukuro announced the good news and revealed that she and her fiance had met through work and started dating after that. Having worked in showbiz from a young age, Shimabukuro said that she is drawn to his seriousness, passion, frankness and warm attitude towards people and that she's thankful for having met him. She expressed thanks to everyone who had supported her in the last 20 years and pledged to continue working hard in future.
Shimabukuro made her debut in 1996 as a member of SPEED before her solo debut in 1999. The group disbanded in 2000 where she subsequently also took on acting. In 2008, SPEED reunited and she is currently juggling the group activities with her solo career. Saotome made his stage debut at the age of 1 year old and is mainly active in stage plays. He appeared in the Gekidan EXILE stage play "KABUKI" with his elder brother and Shimabukuro in February this year.
Prior to the engagement announcement, there was news of the couple's romantic involvement on 11 September and that they are already living together. Saotome is 12 years younger than Shimabukuro and had only turned 20 in May this year. Shimabukuro was spotted at his birthday event and played a key supporting role backstage. The couple were said to have met through a friend and started dating last summer. Coincidentally, they ended up working together in the "KABUKI" play this year along with Saotome's elder brother who also married young at the age of 21 to Nishiyama Maki who is 6 years older than him.
Sources: Sponichi 1 / Sponichi 2 / Oricon