Yeah, it was announced here in Japan on TV, and that week's VS. Arashi featured a special message before the show started.
I hope making a post like this is okay (I couldn't find anything in the rules to say it wasn't, and it's from Johnny's web, which is about as official a source as it gets). Anyway, you probably all found this already, but for anyone who doesn't have access to Johnny's web (not sure if overseas people can read it) I thought I'd share the members' comments and Jun's response to the fan reactions, copied word-for-word from his official blog, "Enjoy":
It's been cold every day. You haven't come down with a cold, have you??
About the announcement we made the other day.
Once again, I'm terribly sorry for the sudden announcement that I'm sure was shocking for all of you.
It's been a few days since then, but I'm sure some of you are still unsure of what to make of things, or feeling unsettled and various other emotions right now.
We knew we had to tell you about it sometime...The concerts are still ongoing, too, so we wanted to get the announcement out of the way and spend as much fun time with all of you as possible afterward. I hope you'll understand that that's the reason we chose this timing for the announcement.
On the 27th, we made the announcement through our comments and video on the official site, then held a press conference.
At this point, we've tried to share everything with all of you, without hiding anything at all.
We also hope to continue announcing any new developments ourselves, speaking directly to you. That's how we feel.
Thanks to the reporting from lots of different media agencies, our words were able to reach all of the fans promptly, and I'm truly grateful for that.
Moving forward, you may have the opportunity to hear the speculations and feelings of others related to this announcement, completely separate from the message we've shared directly.
Let me repeat myself.
Whenever there is anything important to tell all of you moving forward, we will make an announcement and speak to you directly.
Incidentally, as I stated at the press conference, I have thought about ending ARASHI before. However, I've never tried to separate myself and become a solo performer rather than part of a group, and I've never taken any actions to try to achieve that. (^^)
And I'm sure I'll feel the same way about that until 2020. LOLOL
I believe there will also be some speculation and subjective articles by some media agencies. They're free to write and report as they see fit, and it's their job to do so as well, so I have no problem with it.
However, I want to be sincere and forthcoming with all of you.
So I hope you'll continue to follow and believe in us.
I hope we can all enjoy ourselves together until 2020.
That's my most heartfelt desire.
Yesterday, we did recording for "ARASHI ni Shiyagare."
Since we were unable to inform the program staff beforehand, I think a lot of them were quite shocked.
We told them we'll continue to enjoy the show together just like always.
There were even some people who were worried and came to the studio in person. I'm so grateful for their concern.
Also, we talked to the fans participating in the filming before we got started, and I could tell by their faces that they were experiencing a variety of emotions.
I think it will take some time.
More time the stronger your feelings are.
However, please continue to keep your eyes on us from here on out.
We'll make sure you don't regret it.
Someday, I hope you'll be able to understand how we feel.
Also, I want to make sure we can all look back on this time and realize it was the right choice.
This weekend, the five of us will be appearing on "Music Station."
I hope yo'll continue to watch and see all of us performing as ARASHI just like always.
This has gotten quite long, so I'll end today's post here.
In closing, all of the filming for the NHK TV drama finished up the other day!
I was finally able to cut my hair.
I hope you'll keep an eye out for me and see for yourself. LOL
See you later!
I recorded that episode of Shiyagare
and they did make a mini-announcement before it started, mostly apologizing for the suddenness of their previous announcement. Nothing was said about the band going on hiatus though, so I guess they figured people already knew. (To be fair, the initial announcement was pretty widespread on Japanese TV!)
The agency also made a separate announcement on the fan page. Most of it was going over what's already been said, but there were a few key points and comments from all the members:
It was the thoughts of one of the members, Ohno, that ultimately led to the decision to "suspend activities as ARASHI." "2020 would be a good place for us to leave things as ARASHI for the time being, to each go down our own paths." Considering those ideas by Ohno, countless discussions have taken place with all members of the group, individually, and with the company since around June 2017. They have shared with each other their true feelings, and, while clashing at times, struggled as they arrived at the decision that "ARASHI will go on hiatus for the time being and each of the members will go on to lead their own lives." Throughout everything that happened until arriving at this decision, all five members shared one common and unwavering belief, and that is, "The only way ARASHI would remain active is with all five members together."
"In mid-June of 2017, I gathered the other four members and shared what I felt and my thoughts.
As for what I said, I said I wanted to end my activities as a member of ARASHI in 2020.
That ARASHI's 20th anniversary and 2020 would be a good place for us to leave things as ARASHI and for the five of us to each go down own paths.
I'm also well aware that this was selfish of me, but I also expressed my desire to try living my life freely for once without being tied down by anything.
After that, I continued to have countless discussions with each of the members one-on-one.
After countless discussions as a group of five, the decision was reached that ARASHI will go on hiatus in 2020.
Each of the members have their own thoughts on this, and I will shoulder those thoughts as we keep on sprinting forward all the way through until the end of 2020.
I know this is sudden.
To all parties concerned who have continued to provide us with support, and most importantly, each of you, our fans, who have continued without fail to support ARASHI, I am truly sorry.
I am filled with such profound feelings of gratitude that I cannot express them in words. Thank you so very much.
With the remainder of our time until the end of 2020, I hope to properly carry out my duties to the best of my ability."
"Discussion began in June of 2017.
The members talked individually to each other and the five of us discussed as a group countless times.
Around June of 2018...
the thoughts and feelings of the members I love so dearly, whom I've been together with for over twenty years...
With the many thoughts and feelings that differed slightly from each other, we managed to bring it all together and arrive at our decision.
I want ARASHI to keep being ARASHI until the end.
I want to keep ARASHI locked away in a treasure chest.
That's how I feel right now.
Back when we debuted as ARASHI in 1999, I never would've even imagined it.
I never would have imagined that there would be countless fans, people involved, and staff members at our side. And who continue to remain at our side.
Thanks to these people, I've been able to live out a countless number of my dreams.
They've taken me to places where I've been able to see countless sights.
These overflowing feelings of gratitude which can not be expressed with words alone are what I hope to be able to convey to all of you with our time from now on."
"I felt it would be difficult to remain active as a group while calling ourselves ARASHI when we're missing one or two members, and this is precisely because of the strong belief that it's the five of us that make ARASHI.
I love ARASHI.
I can do anything for ARASHI.
It's taken me time to sort out my feelings, but I've come to terms with it now!
It's absolutely not like we had a falling-out.
Entering our twentieth year, the trust that we share and the bonds between us have grown even stronger.
I'm truly grateful I got to know these four people.
To each of you who has supported ARASHI until now, thank you so much.
I'll do my best so that when the five of us resume activities again as a group, we'll be able to give all of you a performance that'll bring you joy!"
"I was very surprised when I first heard about it. I haven't even imagined anything like it, after all. However, after talking it over countless times since then, we have decided to suspend our activities out of respect for the opinions that each of us has.
The five of us are what make ARASHI ARASHI.
The five of us will do our best so that ARASHI can continue to be ARASHI until the very end of 2020.
To all concerned parties, we'll continue to be in need of your assistance!
And to each of you, our fans...
We will always be ARASHI."
"We've had multiple discussions and this is the decision that we've come to.
The five of us will continue sprinting forward until the end of 2020.
Also, I hope to do my best each and every day so that we can continue to make fun memories with all of you, our fans, until the very end.
That's how I feel.
As for why this announcement was made at this time, it is because we felt that it would take time for our fans who support us and the relevant parties what we work with to come to understand our decision.
And that is why the announcement was made now.
I hope to talk about it properly again and for us to be optimistic each day as we go about our lives.
Including this year that's the year of our 20th anniversary, I hope we'll be able to tell each of our fans how grateful we are for all the support that you've shown us until now.
I hope that's the kind of year it will be.
The five of us will continue sprinting forward together and I hope you'll be willing to come along with us."
So, reading between the lines, my take on all this is:
Arashi and the Jimusho know exactly how long the hiatus is going to last, but won't tell the fans because "Arashi is taking a 1-year hiatus" will be turned into "Arashi will definitely reform in one year" and they'll be committed to reforming whether they want to or not.
That said, I think the hiatus will be around 1 year; any less than that and someone in the media is going to claim it was just a publicity stunt. Any more, and most of the fans will start to cool off a little. At the end of this time, there'll be more meetings and discussions to talk about whether to make the hiatus permanent (ie, formally break up) or reform, perhaps with an easier schedule, ie, bring back VS Arashi
but not Arashi ni Shiyagare
. Talks will probably start a little earlier; that way, if they do reform, the agency can stage a big comeback in that year's Kouhaku
However it turns out, I'm happy for them. I think they've all earned a rest; they've spent more than half their lives in Arashi, after all. I hope their individual shows continue though, and I really hope they stay in touch with each other