TOKYO, Jan. 23, Kyodo
A single CD of Japanese pop group SMAP released in 2003 ranked No. 1 on a Japanese hit chart Friday, as fans alarmed by news of their imminent breakup launched a campaign to buy it to express their support for the band, music information provider Oricon Inc. said Saturday.
“Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” (The Only Flower in the World), the most popular song by the evergreen male band, shot up to ninth place from out of ranking on Jan. 14, the day after media reports that SMAP was on the verge of breaking up, and continued to climb up on Oricon’s daily single ranking to reach the top spot on Friday.
Five other songs by SMAP, formed in 1988, ranked within the top 100 singles on the latest chart.
The news of their potential breakup shook Japan as the group has remained a fixture in the country’s show business for more than 20 years. Although most members are now in their 40s, they are still considered a top male idol group.
SMAP members apologized to fans for causing anxiety and pledged to continue as a group during their weekly TV variety show on Monday, prompting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Cabinet ministers to add their voices to the chorus of relieved fans in Japan and elsewhere in Asia the following day.