Official representatives of the Japanese pop boy band SMAP have announced the band will break up December 31 this year.
A split has been churning in the rumour mill for some time, but on Sunday the band's managers, Johnny and Associates, issued a new statement confirming the split.
“Some members have expressed their wish to disband, rather than to suspend” SMAP’s active schedule as a group. It was a very difficult decision, but we have judged it will be difficult to continue its activities as a group, although it was not a unanimous choice by the members”
SMAP, which stands for 'Sports Music Assemble People', is one of Asia's biggest pop group. Their career has spanned 25 years, with the band performing all over the continent.
They have featured in Asian films, soap opera, talk shows, and commercials. They've also appeared on Japan's television coverage of the Rio Olympics.
The band was formed in 1988, and currently has five members - Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori - all now aged between 39 to 43.
The band has also contributed to good diplomacy within Asia, particularly between Japan, China, and South Korea.
In 2011, SMAP performed a concert in Bejing. At the time, it had been 10 years since a Japanese pop group had performed in China, which was due to animosity between the two nations over ownership of the uninhabited Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands. More than 40,000 people were in attendance.
Following the split, the band's management have said the five members will each pursue a solo career.