On January 27, 2019 Japanese idol group Arashi announced on their admission-charged fan club website that they will take a break from their band activity following December 31, 2020. The sudden news was a shock across Japan where they are often seen on TV.
The five members addressed the hiatus in a one-hour press conference on the same day as the announcement. This article compiles the key pieces said at the talk.
The boy band’s leader Satoshi Ohno said in the video, “I want to live a free life where I wouldn’t be bound to anything.” Ohno’s feelings seemed strong with the indefinite hiatus on the band’s shoulders. He continued: “Of course I have a free life now, but I want to try leaving this world [the industry] and see things I haven’t before. I feel I haven’t experienced living a normal life since entering this world. Though I don’t have anything specific I want to do.”
The members seemed to arrive at this same conclusion several times, but it was Ohno especially who seemed firmly set on this decision.
Fellow member Kazunari Ninomiya stated the following: “I feel that it wouldn’t be Arashi if there were 4 or 6 people. In the world of Arashi, if it isn’t the five of us, it isn’t Arashi, and we can’t give 100% in our performances.”
Masaki Aiba gave the following comment: “I spoke with our leader (Ohno) about if there was some way Arashi could continue. But every time we spoke, he seemed to be heading in a different direction. I felt if members started leaving it wouldn’t be Arashi, so I understood his opinion and decided to follow him.”
Sho Sakurai said what took the longest in making the decision was tying up the five members’ feelings. “[What took the longest] was making sure everybody’s feelings arrived at the same place. […] We’ve been together for over 20 years, so we have mutual respect for each other.”
It’s an indefinite hiatus – not a breakup. Jun Matsumoto spoke about where Arashi will go from here: “The five of us have been together while doing this, so it wasn’t easy telling the leader we wanted to continue either. I think it’s something you have to be prepared for, and I feel you can’t go into it just based on emotions. We spoke, and even if the four of us had our minds made up and temporarily did it with just us, and then the leader said, “I don’t think now’s the right time,” we still have all the past things we have done and accomplished together. I’m not sure what will happen. I can’t visualize it. And that’s why I hope the five of us will come together again. I can’t state what I just said for certain.”
Each member respects the other’s wishes. Their future as a five-person boy band will be decided as the five of them. The members continued to convey their thoughts and feelings towards Arashi with consideration.
Finally, these are the last messages each member gave at the end of the conference.
Aiba: “I am grateful to have met these four. We have truly had the opportunity to show the fans many things. Thank you so much. I want to give these next two years everything I’ve got so they can [keep on] enjoying themselves, so we ask for your continued support of Arashi to the end.”
Matsumoto: “Firstly, thank you for coming to the announcement on a Sunday night when you don’t have much time. I hope our message has gotten through properly to our fans. To all of you, we made this decision after many discussions from each of us. What I felt strongly was how much each member loves Arashi. I will continue to walk with my love of Arashi close. There are two years left, but I hope you come with us right to the end. I ask for your continued support.”
Ohno: “I feel very sorry for taking many people aback with this sudden news. The decision came after countless talks with the five of us and people in the office. I want to run these last two years to the end doing the things we are able to do, what I’m able to do. I ask for your continued support until the end.”
Sakurai: “Thank you for coming here today while you’re busy and so late at night. At the same time as we felt that it wouldn’t be Arashi without the five of us we also felt we can’t make Arashi with just the five of us. All of the fans we have―so many I can’t believe it―the people involved, the staff. You have supported us all. Arashi will gallop ahead, somehow show you what we always have, and I hope you will run with us. I hope you keep supporting us during these next two years.”
Ninomiya: “My thoughts are the same as what everyone else has said. I will hold the mic as I always do and hope we can make more memories with everyone in our way―in the Arashi way―without the past 20 years being a lie. In any case, this decision began with the leader. The four of us will not rest either and do what each of us does with all our might in these next two years and leave everyone with our usual impression. I hope we can enjoy ourselves together until then. Please keep supporting us.”