The upcoming new single from pop group SMAP is really something quite remarkable. “Tomodachi he…Say What You Will” has music and lyrics by none other than Eric Clapton (59). The lyrics have been translated into Japanese by record-breaking artist Takeuchi Mariya (49), and it is arranged by Mr. Children producer Kobayashi Takeshi (45). SMAP have had a very quiet year as a group, although they’re everywhere on the variety show circuit. They didn’t release any CDs or tour at all, and they won’t be appearing on Kohaku at New Year. In fact, the new single will be their first musical offering in two years. The song is said to be a medium-tempo, upbeat appeal for world friendship and peace. Clapton’s collaboration is inspired by the “Love the Earth” theme of next year’s World Expo, set to open in Aichi in March.
• Korean heart-throb Bae Yong Joon (32) is back in Japan again, though this time without fans finding out. Last month, there was mass pandemonium at both his hotel and Narita airport and some of the thousands of middle-aged housewife fans were even hurt in the chaos. So this time, he quietly entered the country via Fukuoka airport and drove across the country to Tokyo. Local Fukuoka news reported his arrival but didn’t know the purpose of his latest visit.