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Media & Entertainment

Don't block ex-SMAP members, watchdog warns talent agency

Fair Trade Commission investigates Johnny's for allegedly pushing trio off TV

Former SMAP members Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Shingo Katori. (from left to right, photo taken July 2018)   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Japan's Fair Trade Commission has warned talent agency Johnny's & Associates over suspected pressure on television stations to keep three former members of popular boy band SMAP off the air, in a sign of the watchdog's broadening application of antitrust law.

The commission had investigated reports that the powerful agency -- whose founder, John Hiromu Kitagawa, died on July 9 -- had pushed stations not to invite Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Shingo Katori onto TV shows.

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