With all the year-end music shows announcing their participants, people have been talking about the lineup for NTV's Best Artist 2013, where only the groups from Julie Kitagawa's faction are participating. These include Arashi, TOKIO, and Kanjani8, among others, as well as the newly transferred Hey!Say!JUMP. The Iijima faction on the other hand is led by SMAP, and consists of Kis-My-Ft2, A.B.C-Z, and Sexy Zone to name a few. These 2 camps are battling it out for the right to succeed the agency in the future.
"People may see this as a power struggle between Julie's camp vs. Iijima's camp, but the general consensus among the media is that Julie's camp is much stronger. Of course there's Arashi, and the groups who can handle main shows such as TOKIO and Kanjani8 have fully developed. Iijima-san has SMAP, but despite bartering Kis-My together with them for 2 years now, they haven't quite soared yet to meet their expectations. Her camp also has Tomohisa Yamashita and Jin Akanishi, but they're not "variety show-friendly" talents, which is the specialty of Iijima-san" - (TV station staff)
These 2 factions are also split among the programs where they make their appearances, and seeing the members from each camp together on one show has become a rarity -- to the point that it might not even happen within the same year for other members. So what has made things as complicated as it currently is?
"The agency was most stable when SMAP was on top of the hierarchy. Johnny's wanted to maintain that stance, but all the plans have been affected because of Arashi shooting into stardom. The agency would have loved Arashi to become popular without overtaking SMAP, but now the agency did not expect them to go up the ladder this far. And because of this, the hierarchy structure within the agency has become distorted and unstable. They could only have one on top... Arashi or SMAP. Even the TV stations were troubled as to who they would use." - (showbiz pro staff)
They held their concert at the Kokuritsu, following SMAP's example. They even broke into the Kouhaku Uta Gassen (NHK) in 2009 which was dominated by SMAP and TOKIO until that point, and even made history by hosting the event as a group the following year. Arashi made surprising leaps and bounds up to the top, but who would've thought that their emergence has ironically broken the harmony within the agency.
Julie's camp may currently be the force to be reckoned with, but it seems that Iijima's side is showing new activity as well.
"Akanishi has now sided with the Iijima camp, but this was apparently a calculated move by Iijima herself. This is because of the various connections Akanishi has established within the industry as he befriended other talents outside the restraints of their respective agencies during his days of partying with his troop members. Burning Productions-affiliated talents such as Kyoko Koizumi have also taken a liking to him. Turns out that Iijima wanted this network that Akanishi possessed for herself. In other words, Iijima has turned to Burning Productions in her quest to overturn Julie's current advantage... and the key person she pinpointed was Akanishi. And that is why there are Burning talents in the dramas that have SMAP members as the lead." - (showbiz pro staff)
It may be hard to believe this, but the power struggle within Johnny's has turned into Julie vs. Iijima with Burning. It seems that the battleground has now inevitably spread out from the confines of the agency and is about to involve the entire entertainment industry with it. Will we ever see the day when all of these Johnny's talents come together in one event?