Johnny & Associates, a Japanese talent agency, is well-known for producing male entertainers, specifically idol groups. Before the Korean wave, when J-pop was still the “in” thing, most of the idol groups you may have heard of, such as SMAP, V6, KinKi Kids and Arashi, all originated from “Johnny’s”.
However, in recent years, we have seen the disbanding of SMAP, and even Arashi is going on hiatus next year. Members from various groups were also gradually quitting the agency, something that seems to be increasing in frequency after the death of Johnny’s founder Johnny Kitagawa last year.
Here are the artists who have left Johnny’s within the past year or will soon leave the J-pop institution:
1. Tomoya Nagase from Tokio
The latest case is Nagase, who announced his decision to quit Johnny’s two weeks ago. He will be leaving the agency next March. Regarding his future plans, Nagase explained, “I will not be jumping ship to another agency. Instead, I will be starting from scratch, working behind the scene.” Nagase has been with Johnny’s for about 30 years and is the lead vocalist and guitarist in Tokio.
2. Yuya Tegoshi from NEWS
Unlike most of the people who left Johnny & Associates, Tegoshi’s departure in June was sudden and immediate. However, he has a history of controversy, from partying with underage talents to badmouthing his senpai or senior band Arashi, to the incident before his quitting — violating COVID-19 restrictions to party outdoors. Despite his reputation, he is actually doing well on his YouTube channel with at least 1.4 million views for each of his uploads.
3. Masahiro Nakai from the disbanded SMAP
Nakai was one of the two — the other being Takuya Kimura — from the five-man SMAP who remained in Johnny & Associates. He left the agency in March this year, citing that he had been having difficulty pushing himself to take up new projects after SMAP broke up in 2016. He has since become his own boss and established his own office.
4. Ryo Nishikido from Kanjani Eight
Nishikido was originally a part of both NEWS and Kanjani Eight. He subsequently left NEWS in 2011 due to schedule conflicts. However, his time in Kanjani Eight did not last long either, having quit Johnny & Associates in September last year. He has since released a solo album titled Nomad and held his concert tour of the same name in Japan.
Although the people who left Johnny & Associates seemed to have moved on to pursue varying interests within the entertainment industry, one cannot help but wonder what is happening to the strong and powerful talent agency? On a side note, can the relatively new groups like King & Prince, SixTones and Snow Man uphold the glory of their seniors? Especially after Johnny & Associates’ founder Johnny Kitagawa passed away, in a short span of a year, four talented artistes have quit. Is it a mere coincidence or has this anything to do with the management? Only time will tell.