Arama They Didn't

8:26 pm - 09/15/2011

Music group SMAP to perform in Beijing in bid to improve Japan-China ties

BEIJING -- Popular Japanese music group SMAP will perform in Beijing on Sept. 16, the first overseas performance for the group, an event that Japanese and Chinese officials hope will improve strained relations between the two countries.

The performance will be held at Workers' Stadium in Beijing. Furthermore, on Sept, 24, female pop group AKB48 will perform at "Shanghai Japan Week," a Japan-China cultural interchange event. As next year marks the 40th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between the two countries -- relations that were destabilized when a Chinese fishing boat collided with Japan Coast Guard vessels last year -- both governments appear to be hoping that pop music stars can help mend the bilateral relationship.

According to a Chinese newspaper and other sources, SMAP will perform their song "Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana" (the only flower in the world) in Chinese before an audience of around 30,000.

It will be the first visit to China of a big Japanese music group since popular rock band GLAY performed at a concert there in 2002 and met with then President Jiang Zemin.

At a Japanese restaurant in Beijing, a poster welcoming SMAP's arrival reads in Chinese, "Stay strong Japan! Thank you China! Asia is one!"

However, despite the band's popularity, not everyone is happy.

Bao Meirong, a 25-year-old worker at the restaurant, remarked, "Even the cheapest seats are 280 yuan (about 3,400 yen). It's too expensive for me."

Formed in 1988, SMAP is very well-known in China, partly because the group's television show "SMAP x SMAP," the popular drama series "Moon Lovers" -- which features SMAP member Takuya Kimura in the leading role -- and other media featuring SMAP have been uploaded without copyright permission on Chinese video sites like Tudou and Youku.

Meanwhile, the site Weibo, which is like a Chinese version of Twitter, is overflowing with comments about SMAP such as, "It's not easy to have kept going for (over) 20 years" and "They're amazing because they can do music, variety programs, movies and dramas."

A source familiar with Japanese-Chinese diplomatic relations offered a reason for SMAP's popularity in China, saying, "The members of SMAP are handsome men who sing and dance and are also successful actors. In China, there are still few such entertainers."

However, the road to making SMAP's concert in China a reality was not a smooth one.

Originally, a SMAP performance was planned for June 2010 at the World Expo in Shanghai, but it was canceled for fear of chaos occurring if the site was overwhelmed by too many fans. The performance was planned again for October, but the maritime collisions on Sept. 7 raised diplomatic tensions, and that performance was also canceled. A performance was also planned for May of this year, but after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March, it was canceled as well.

Now, despite the repeated setbacks, SMAP performing in China is set to finally become a reality. Thought to be behind the event organizers' persistence is the desire by the Japanese and Chinese governments to use SMAP as a powerful "trump card" to repair the countries' soured relations.

Other efforts by government officials to use SMAP or other pop groups to repair relations can be seen. On Sept. 15 last year, despite the fact that it was only days after the collision incident, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua showed up at a SMAP performance in Tokyo Dome, where he met with SMAP members and fans, and in May of this year, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with the members of SMAP in Tokyo, where he told them, "I wait with anticipation from my heart for your performance (in China)."

In response, this year Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa has brought up the names of SMAP and Arashi, another popular pop band, again and again in his public appearances. Last month, when he visited Qinghai Province, he gave Arashi DVDs to President Hu Jintao and first secretary of the Communist Youth League of China, Lu Hao.

In August, SMAP's Kimura held a press conference in China, where he expressed his desires for the upcoming performance, saying, "I want to express the energy of Japan (as it works to recover from the March 11 disasters)."

Source: Mainichi Japan

small shout out for the brief mention of my boys, Happy 5x12!!!
miyukixrinn 15th-Sep-2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
SMAP <333 wonder if there'll b a dvd~
ocha_suki 15th-Sep-2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
knowing that i have the same dvd with China's President is just giggling me XDD
wonder if he really watched it ^_~
anyway...happy 5x12!!! *throw confetti*
nansuki 15th-Sep-2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
Yay SMAP!! Hope everything goes smoothly.
$45 for ticket isn't too expensive - if you really like the group & don't mind being broke for a few days/weeks.
fog_dancer 15th-Sep-2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Being poor in China is a different matter to being poor in many other countries, though.
cuizy 16th-Sep-2011 05:05 am (UTC)
yeah there are some pretty poor people in China..... but usually the more hardcore fans of JE are pretty well off and should be able to afford the basic seats

cuz I think concerts by other artists cost at least this much too
arashic5 15th-Sep-2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
this year Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa has brought up the names of SMAP and Arashi, another popular pop band, again and again in his public appearances. Last month, when he visited Qinghai Province, he gave Arashi DVDs to President Hu Jintao and first secretary of the Communist Youth League of China, Lu Ha

pawneternal 15th-Sep-2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
I was just going to say the same thing - JE for world peace!?!? LOL, I never would have thought such trite entertainment could reconcile enemies. What will they try next?
noonew 15th-Sep-2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
SMAP also met with former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan at the Great Hall today. They truly treat this as a diplomatic event rather than just a regular concert ^^

Here is the news clip.

noonew 15th-Sep-2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
And I can't not post this. I love Kimura's hair and they all look great <3

newsvsyamapi 17th-Sep-2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
agree, they look really handsome
cuizy 16th-Sep-2011 05:06 am (UTC)
wow thanks!
cuizy 16th-Sep-2011 05:21 am (UTC)
omg! Can't believe they had a meeting at the Great Hall! Srs business!!
citrine047 15th-Sep-2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
cant get over the fact that a Japanese government official is giving out Arashi DVDs. to a country president. O_o
asaphira_sachi 15th-Sep-2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
This xD
rim1789 16th-Sep-2011 02:30 am (UTC)

xD Mind you, I wish they would do that to all of us even not member of the gov.

* imagine fgoing to the embassy and getting Arashi's DVD for free * xDDD
cuizy 16th-Sep-2011 05:06 am (UTC)
*technically* chairman...... China isn't on a president system....>>
citrine047 16th-Sep-2011 07:06 am (UTC)
lol, ikr. but it said he gave Arashi DVDs to President Hu Jintao
cuizy 16th-Sep-2011 07:10 am (UTC)
yeah..... so the original translators messed up :(
rim1789 16th-Sep-2011 02:28 am (UTC)
I feel like I'm ALWAYS missing SMAP ==> Event in Japanon the 9th ? I'm leaving on the 9th morning.

Now Beijing ? Wait, I went to Shanghai.

... I'm just a tourist, but it seems to me that (at least in Beijing) Johnny's are pretty much not known. Even SMAP and Arashi.

In Karaoké you can't find their songs ( In France, we have like... ONE Karaoké in the whole Paris...But you can find Js song up to 2010 or 2009... I can't remember)

So I'm really surprised the gov people know about them maybe are also a fan. Especially since many poeple with whom I spoke (well 20-25 years old) didn't know Japan nor Japan's entertainement.

Then again, I didn't speak to everyone, and maybe I simply didn't ask the right persons and my view is totally false.

If anyone knows much more about this, I'm really curious ^^ Thank you :D
cuizy 16th-Sep-2011 05:16 am (UTC)
Can you speak chinese? How did you communicate with them?

I was also pretty interested about the Chinese je fans and went on their forums etc. I just know that there's a lot of them.... but of course they are a minority so that's probably why you didn't meet any? (apparently all the youth nowadays are into kpop, or Chinese entertainment)

I also heard that Shanghai is most Jpop fan friendly so I'm surprised you didn't find any? At least when I went to those dvd stores I saw quite a number of j dramas for sale..... As for karaoke there is a chain store from Taiwan that has Japanese songs.

And I don't think there's that many SMAP fans.... a couple years back yamapi/jin/kame were extremely popular, nowadays it's probably arashi/yamada from hsj
rim1789 16th-Sep-2011 08:30 am (UTC)
Sorry, maybe I wasn't very clear I was speaking mainly of Beijing.^^ Not Shanghai. // I just arrived here, so I can't speak about it yet^^ //

Beijing was more KPOP friendly.

Since Beijing is the capital and where the concert was held, I was wondering about that ^^

The chinese JPOP fans I know (from the Internet) are from HK/Taiwan though ... // They tend to make a difference even between them and those who lives there ^^'//

I was wondering, that's why I asked here^^The poeple with whom I spoke were born and raised in Benjing or in provinces near Beijing and still lived there/never been away from China (not even HK), but they could speak in nearly perfect english (or at least enough so we could understand each other).

We were speaking in english.

(Of course they were not much, so I was simply wondering if my impressions were false or not :D)

Thanks for the answer :D
cuizy 16th-Sep-2011 09:45 am (UTC)
ic you were in Beijing and now in Shanghai....

I think most of the time when jpop concerts were held.... it was mostly in Shanghai, and smap was planning to do it there last year too before it got cancelled....

I don't know if there are a lot of jpop fans in Beijing, but I believe *everybody* knows at least kimutaku (I knew his name from reading chinese newspapers when I was like 10....) And last time I was in China, japanese fashion mags are pretty popular like vivi, ray etc and I even saw HUGE billboards of fuji lena etc..... (then again I was in Shanghai.....)

Anyways, most of the straight-from-China students around me has watched a japanese drama or too....may not know the actors names but know their faces? And it seems the more hardcore johnnys fans will fly in from other parts of the country to see smap..... and the stadium will be otherwise filled with ppl who want to see kimutaku in action?

And yeah the culture in hk/taiwan is pretty different from mainland, probably why they differentiate themselves.... when I was in taiwan.... Johnnys things were SO easy to find.... yamapi and nino's faces were plastered all over for their movie at the time!

And that's good that Chinese young people can speak english so well!
rim1789 16th-Sep-2011 09:53 am (UTC)
Yep ^^ They can speak really well :DDD ^^

Thank you for the answer ^^ It was quite interesting ^^ m(_ _)m ^^
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