Thursday, July 23, 2020

More details on TOKIO's new plans from April 2021 & Nagase Tomoya's departure from Johnny's

Further to the "surprise" announcement last night from TOKIO, more details have been reported today about the background of their decision and the band's plans from April 2021. Frankly speaking, Nagase's intention to leave and pursue other interests has been reported quite frequently for the past few years ever since Yamaguchi Tatsuya left due to his scandal so I'm not so surprised by his move. Just like how the members feel, it struck me as "so he finally made up his mind". On the other hand, I'm quite happy to see that the remaining members will set up their own company while maintaining their band name (albeit still an affiliate of Johnny's) and get more freedom to do what they want. Perhaps the only sad thing out of this is that without their vocalist, TOKIO will never resume their music activities but if the five of them ever get back together one day in the future, we might get to hear their music ahead. So, never say never.

For now, I'll just rewatch and re-listen to their CDs and DVDs and think about the good old days.


- Josei Seven interviewed Joshima Shigeru, Kokubun Taichi and Matsuoka Masahiro after the news was announced. Although Kokubun and Matsuoka were dressed casually, Joshima was wearing a suit during the interview. They explained that they completed the company registration for TOKIO Co., Ltd. on 22 July 2020 and the company seal was also created. Matsuoka revealed that this was why Joshima was dressed formally since he was the company president and had to complete the incorporation process.

- Joshima will be the president while Kokubun and Matsuoka will be vice-presidents. Kokubun will be in charge of planning while Matsuoka will be in charge of public relations. Matsuoka joked that the realization that he has become a company's president hasn't quite sunk in for Joshima but they will support him and work together without running away with the company's funds. Joshima said that TOKIO has made many things to date on an island and village which had nothing to begin with but creating a company is really new to them.

- Nagase will not belong to any agency after he leaves Johnny's Jimusho next year and is planning to work behind-the-scenes as a creator. However, this does not mean that he will be leaving showbiz for good since he never said so thus there is a likelihood that he may return as an artiste again.

- The band discussed at regular intervals about their future plans so the members were all aware that Nagase had the intention to pursue other interests since several years ago. As such, this was not something which arose from what happened to Yamaguchi back in 2018. When asked if the inability to resume music activities was what made Nagase decide to leave, they said that it wasn't the trigger for his decision but rather, his intention to try other things was something which had been discussed from time to time. It just so happened that the move is going to take place after Yamaguchi's departure.

- In January 2020, Nagase announced his intention to leave the agency. Rather than being surprised, the members had the feeling that this day had finally come. Since then, the four of them had engaged in numerous discussions and concluded in the end that they would send Nagase off happily.

- From then on, Joshima, Kokubun and Matsuoka started to discuss what they would want to do after Nagase leaves. It would have been easy for them to simply quit from the agency as well but they wanted to keep the name "TOKIO" which was given to them by the late Johnny Kitagawa. That was when they toyed with the idea of setting up a company with the name TOKIO. However, as this was an unprecedented move in the history of Johnny's, Kokubun brought up the idea to the current president Julie Fujishima who was full of praise for the idea. They were very surprised by how she reacted to their proposal. Nagase was also very happy that their name will be retained.

- Although the members had hardly mentioned Yamaguchi in a public setting ever since what happened in 2018, they revealed that they just didn't have the opportunity to talk about him openly. The relationship and bond between the five of them had never changed despite what happened even though their band had undergone changes. In fact, Yamaguchi was told of their decision by Matsuoka during a 30-min call before the announcement came out yesterday. Yamaguchi was very supportive of their decisions and had shared with them that he was trying his best to lead a decent life now.

- In a separate interview with Sports Hochi, it was revealed that Nagase had never said that he wanted to quit but rather, the other members could see that the things he wanted to do were slowly deviating from what they had been doing. As such, they are eagerly anticipating to see what he could come up with after he leaves.

- Preparations before the announcement began about a year ago and they had planned to announce it with some leeway since Nagase wouldn't be quitting with immediate effect. However, due to what happened to former NEWS member Tegoshi Yuuya, they had to make some adjustments to the schedule.

- When asked if the three members had accepted Nagase's proposal readily, Kokubun said that they are already adults and have been together for so long thus there wasn't any argument at all. In fact, he wished that they could have done some arguing during the process.

- As to whether Nagase was frustrated for not being able to do a concert tour for the band's 25th anniversary, the members denied this and said that it wasn't an issue of whether they wanted to do it or not. The issue for them was, with Yamaguchi out of the picture, they didn't feel that they could resume their music activities without deciding on what to do about the absence of their bassist.

- As the members said that it was an "amicable divorce" between them and Nagase, they were also asked about how they felt about Tegoshi's claim that his departure was also amicable. Matsuoka commented that Tegoshi's situation wasn't the same and that he had rattled off too much during his press conference which should have been better if he set aside at least 5 minutes for Q & A.

- Kokubun elaborated that to date, their image was created by their agency and the programmes they appeared in. Going forward, they will be the ones who set their own directions and try various things as they make the transition from being a band to a company. And they do not have any plans for anyone else to join their company as of now since they don't want to have competition and quarrels from office politics among the artistes.

- Although there had been a series of artiste departures from Johnny's in recent years, the three of them are bucking the trend by staying on but under a different structure. They also went to inform Johnny Kitagawa about their plans on his death anniversary on 9th July. They admitted that this move would have been unexpected by him but believed that he would support them since he always told them not to copy what others did.

- When asked if Matsuoka would stop the media from reporting bad news or scandals about them since he is in charge of PR, he joked that they could write for all they want but most likely, they would only be able to snap photos of Joshima though.

- As for the company's ownership structure, Matsuoka revealed that Johnny's Jimusho will hold a certain percentage while the rest will be owned by the three of them. When asked if they expect Joshima to issue bonuses to them, Matsuoka poked fun at the president for being one who never gives New Year's gifts to their juniors all along so they will not expect too much from him. In response, Joshima said that bonuses will have to depend on the economic conditions.

- As for what they wish to do come April 2021, Matsuoka said that they will continue with what they are doing and also try other new things. Kokubun said that it would be good to get Joshima to hold presentations or seminars talking about being a modern leader since this hasn't been done before by anyone in Johnny's. Considering that Joshima had been their leader for 26 years even though he isn't the aggressive nor forceful type, they believed that he would have lots of insights to share about leadership since they might have gone their separate ways earlier if he was a control freak who ruled with an iron fist.

- When asked if they would participate in Johnny's events in future, Matsuoka said that they would if they are asked to but Kokubun stressed that they won't be singing though.

- TOKIO's fanclub will continue to exist from April 2021.

- In his comments to fanclub members, Nagase called upon them not to feel sad about the impending changes but rather, be happy about how far the band has come after all these years. He also thanked everyone for their love and support for the past 30 years which had made him very happy.