Interview: Japanese pop idol Miyake Ken on his next chapter

Japanese pop star Miyake Ken is opening a new chapter in his career after leaving the agency he belonged to for three decades. He sat down with NHK to talk about his career and his fans.

On July 2, Miyake spoke to more than 300,000 fans on YouTube Live after joining a newly established talent agency.

"I want to meet your expectations more than ever," said Miyake on his 44th birthday. "I will work hard every single day so that we can create and offer entertainment to people around the world."

Updating 'idol'

Miyake has been in the entertainment industry since he joined the agency as a teenager 30 years ago. In 1995, he made his official debut as a member of a boy group.

Miyake — whose Instagram bio reads simply "idol," a term used in Japan to describe usually young entertainers and media personalities — says the word is the most suitable expression to describe himself, rather than other terms such as "artist" or "creator."

He says he wants to make the occupation more sustainable.

"In the past, idols typically quit in their early 20s," he says. "I think it's necessary to revise that way of thinking so that idols can be more than something only for the short term."

"I want to expand possibilities by collaborating with other things such as culture and art. Over my 30-year career, I have realized the potential in idols and I want to make sure that can be passed on to the next generation."

Miyake Ken talks about his decision to join a new talent agency.

'Believing in myself'

Miyake says he was able to make the decision to take a new direction because of the confidence he's built up over three decades of accomplishments — and also the confidence he has in his potential for the future.

"Thinking of the next chapter in my life, I thought I should make a move while I'm in my 40s," he says. "Of course, there are many things that can be done no matter how old you are, and I think the possibilities are infinite. If you want to start something big, however, I think your 40s are better than your 50s in terms of physical strength and health.

"If I say I'm not worried, I'd be lying. But no one knows what the future holds."

Miyake Ken says his experience will be an asset.

Fans, the driving force

Miyake says the driving force behind his long career has always been the presence of his loyal fans, who have shared both joy and sorrow with him.

"Fans are not my family members, friends or lovers, but I would say they are special and don't fit in those categories," he says. "We have shared various emotions, good and bad, and we have grown together in the process. My fans and I have created something that can only be understood by us, and that'll never go away.

"Think about supporting one person for 30 years — and the time, energy, emotion, and of course the money they spent. If you add them up over 30 years, that's incredible. So, now I strongly feel that I want to give back to my fans as much as possible."

Miyake Ken says he's grateful to his 'special' fans.