Keito Okamoto, a member of the popular J-pop group Hey! Say! JUMP, will temporarily leave the outfit later this year, according to a video shared to fan club members over the weekend. The 25-year-old performer says he will go to the United States to study, before vowing to return to the project that helped make him a presence in the Japanese entertainment industry.
In the clip available online to members of the group’s fanclub, Okamoto said he plans to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York starting this September. Crucially — especially to fans — he said he isn’t leaving Hey! Say JUMP but rather taking a break to study and intends to return to the project at some undetermined point in the future.
Okamoto’s name came up last week after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that he would be leaving the group by the end of June, allegedly for “improper behavior.” Okamoto has found himself caught up in various scandals in the past. However, Okamoto himself said in the video that this was a move to “show everyone his growth.”
Hey! Say! JUMP debuted in 2007, with Okamoto as one of the founding members of the nine-person group. The group features members all born in the Heisei era of Japanese history (after 1990), hence the name. They’ve become one of the more popular Johnny & Associates groups over the past decade.
The group announced they will release a new single, titled “Cosmic Human,” on August 1. Okamoto will help promote the song and appear on TV performances prior to his departure. A concert tour slated for later in the year, however, will only feature eight members total taking part in it.
Hear us on SBS PopAsia Digital Radio
Listen in 24/7 on Digital Radio, by downloading our free mobile app or by streaming live here on our website.
Download the app here: