―"My love for NEWS is stronger than anyone else’s," "We have a large responsibility." Do you remember what you said in your interview four years ago?
"I said those kinds of things (lol)"
―In reality the withdrawal of two members had already been decided, and after learning that those remarks had been made at a fragile timing when you weren't sure if the group would even continue, those words grew in importance.
"Ohh, the previous interview took place at that time, didn't it."
―Yeah. Four years ago, at the moment when the two of them announced their intentions in the meeting room, what kinds of thoughts did you have?
"Hmm, since for a long time I had faintly known that this day would come..... Bit by bit things hadn't been going along well, and that was the day that the final conclusion was reached. It definitely wasn't like, 'Huh!? Seriously?' all of a sudden. Everyone somehow knew it. More precisely, that was the definitive ending day where we clearly heard their intentions from their own mouths.... Of course they wanted to quit, but that timing couldn't be found."
―What was the atmosphere in the meeting room like?
"The remaining members, staff, management...I think that probably a lot, or perhaps most of the people, at first thought, 'I guess it's impossible to do as four.' Rather than impossible, like, 'Is there meaning in continuing as a four member NEWS?' I can say this now because time has passed, but seriously breaking up NEWS was one of the major options. More than worrying about 'We want to do it even as four, but how would be good to go on?,' the atmosphere was like, 'Is it really okay for it to end like this?,' 'Is this how it's going to end?'"
―Breaking up was quite a possibility?
"Yes. Completely. Every decision was possible. However, no matter what decision we made, it was like let's clearly state our opinions with confidence about what we want to do. I think everyone really worried over it. Amongst the mixture of various emotions like, 'I want to continue,' 'Can we continue?,' I think that everyone at least once had a moment where they thought, 'I wonder if there's also the option of quitting."
―In other words, Masuda-kun had one too?
"I did. But, the first thing I thought was probably wondering if all of the songs NEWS had made up until now could remain. There was the fear that we would demolish the past and they wouldn't remain. I really loved the six member NEWS, and I'm proud of the songs we made in our six person era. That's why I went and bowed my head to various people and asked to be allowed to keep singing."
―Meaning you asked for NEWS to continue?
"The best shape for the songs to remain wasn't for me or someone to keep singing NEWS' songs solo, and it wasn't for Tegomass to take over the songs either. As expected I had the conviction that the four of us could keep singing. So even though I couldn't see our future at all, there's no mistaking that there were songs I wanted to remain and keep sharing."
"At the same time I wanted to do it as four, but I thought many things like, 'What can the four of us do?' and 'Can we take shape as four in the first place?' Furthermore, there was also the existence of Tegomass. Like, the situation of NEWS becoming four, and among those two are Tegomass.... During our six member era, the difference between the two was clearly worked out. But this meant that out of four people, two would have a separate unit. What is it that would divide NEWS and Tegomass. 'Cause as NEWS we also sang earnestly, and as Tegomass we also perform earnestly and are idols at full power. Drawing a line between them is difficult. There were many staff and management members thinking the same thing, and there was the opinion that it would be better to choose one of them. That's why rather than needing to find meaning for four member NEWS to continue, at the very least inside me it was necessary to find a clear reason to be able to put my chest forward like, 'That's why we're continuing.'"
―The previous interview was during the period where you were worrying over those things.
"Of course, it was like, 'Give me a break!,' and to be honest I also had feelings of not knowing where it was okay to strike against. 'Cause originally we debuted as nine people. Out of those, four people remain. For the four of us who are only looking ahead and have come forward at full strength, we don't need a story like, 'Many things happened, but you overcame them and are doing your best,' in the slightest."
―That's true. But at that time, even though you had that state of mind, you declared, "My love for NEWS is stronger than anyone's."
"It's as expected because for me it was my first group, I was a nobody but it's the first group I became a part of. Somehow I wanted to protect it."
―Did you talk things over with anyone?
"I guess I didn't. I didn't even talk with my family. There were senpai who asked me, 'Are you alright? How's it going?,' but.... I wonder why. I wanted someone to give me a push forward and there were feelings I wanted to spit out, but after all we weren't continuing without understanding, and we weren't breaking up either. It wasn't a problem that could be solved through someone's advice; there were parts that seemed like a battle against ourselves. The first things we had to have established were our own wills, but in the beginning I couldn't even talk to the other members."
―Amidst that, there was the official announcement of the withdrawal of the two of them.
"With the feeling that the four of us were continuing in shape. But the content of our activities was still a blank sheet."
―The four of you went to eat yakiniku and Koyama-kun put himself forward for leader, right?
"Both Tegoshi and I thought, 'Why do we even need to make a leader.' But it came across clearly that Koyama had discussed it with Shige a lot. The two of them made a presentation with all their might, something like, 'I want us to go on from here with me as our leader.' Despite that, Tegomass's initial response was, 'We don't need a leader, do we?' (lol). Because both Tegoshi and I, and furthermore Shige and Koyama as well, we've all had leader-like temperaments from the beginning, or rather we're the types of like cheering squad leaders, and we've all come this far having positions like leaders ourselves. The atmosphere to Tegoshi and I became like, 'You're standing above us?' But because it's out of control, if you want to do it that bad, go ahead."
―What do you think about the presence of a leader now?
"Even now I think, 'What's the necessity?' (lol). Because Koyama doesn't take control of anything. However, if being leader lets him build his character, I guess that's good."
"But there's no doubt that Koyama is the one who thinks about all the members the most. He has a side where he doesn't think things through at all, and because he's sociable he's amazingly skilled at getting along with people superficially (lol). Despite that, in regards to the members he'll without a doubt take a step forward at the perfect timing and ask things like, 'Did something happen?' It's like he's there so that the three other than him can be in great circumstances, so much that it's like isn't he always at a place for our benefit. I think that Koyama fits as leader."
―After Koyama-kun became leader, the Tegomass no Mahou tour began. What was your reason for singing "Sakura Girl"?
"We decided the set list with the awareness that six-member NEWS was going to disappear, and it was like let's sing one of NEWS' songs. I guess the lyrics and our state of mind overlapped. Both of us soon suggested 'Sakura Girl.' Rather, we tried singing it as Tegomass. At that time we were worrying about various things, and during that period of worry we sang "Sakura Girl" with strong emotions."
―During the period of unease when you were unsure what to do about NEWS and Tegomass, who became a support to you?
"I guess it was the presence of Tegoshi. The discussions the two of us had were really big. The voices of the people around us became overwhelmingly like, 'Wouldn't it be better to choose just one between NEWS and Tegomass?' The NEWS where a future couldn't be seen or the firmly established Tegomass.... But both before and during the tour Tegoshi and I talked a lot about how it didn't seem right to end Tegomass in order for NEWS to remain, or to end NEWS in order to put all our effort in to doing Tegomass. Both Tegoshi and I have huge feelings for NEWS and love for Tegomass as well. He said it. 'It's not which should we choose. They're both important!' It was like, ah, he feels the same way. That's when it was decided in my heart. We seriously worried over it, and in the midst of our worry there were also times when we talked about what we should do while crying."
―Previously you've said, "It feels like we're doing two groups of the same size with NEWS and Tegomass." What do you think now?
"Hmm, it's not the order of like now is the time for NEWS so next is probably Tegomass, but it's best for them to coexist peacefully. Things like which is which and their size, lately I don't think about those anymore. Rather my feelings are equal."
―I'd like you to give us three scenes that have left an impression from the time NEWS became four people up until today.
"Hmm, I guess the first is the time from the release of "Chankapaana" until the concert at Chichibunomiya."
―After the withdrawal announcement, there were about nine months open before the release of "Chankapaana," right?
"It was completely my selfishness. The three of them, in particular Shige, said, 'Let's do a concert soon.' Like, before the flame called NEWS is extinguished it's definitely best to begin moving from the moment we become four. And they wanted to quickly release a song. But it was just me who opposed it, like, 'We definitely won't do it soon.'"
―Why was that?
"I understand what Shige wanted to say and his intentions. But I wanted to prioritize making something that I could say with confidence, 'This will definitely go well.' Certainly we had a long empty gap. It's just that I thought we had a responsibility."
―For who, and what kind of responsibility?
"A responsibility towards the people who were waiting for us. A responsibility to clearly show the people waiting for us what it was we could do as four. Like, if we couldn't do that there would be no meaning for having us continue. I definitely didn't want to make them sad because we had scaled down or something. I definitely didn't want them to have an impression like, 'This was a half-hearted revival.' Like, it wasn't good if the goal became our continuation. There were these people who were believing in and waiting for us. The responsibility to respond to those emotions was definitely in all of four of us."
―Didn't you have fear that as time passed you would be forgotten?
"I did. Despite that, we don't need an image like, 'We're holding out on these circumstances.' It took time and we ended up making people wait, but even now I think that time was necessary."
―Then, "Chankapaana" was released when the time was ripe. Your fans waited for you, didn't they.
"I was so happy. Like, I didn't make a mistake. This can connect with what's next. We opened the large, heavy door that was before our eyes and took a step forward. But at that point we didn't know things like what kind of world was waiting for us. When we saw the reaction of the fans we realized for the first time that the path was continuing."
―How was your first tour as four, NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 ~Utsukushii Koi ni Suru Yo~?
"I really loved those shows, but, honestly, until the moment it began I had concerns if they were going to be enough."
―What kinds of concerns?
"When it was decided that we would do a concert, I wanted to do it at Tokyo Dome. Shige said, 'A small place is fine, let's hurry up and start and climb up from there.' Like, it's not about the size of the box, isn't it better to just go around many places already. But I thought that for the fans who were looking forward to our 'revival,' rather than doing a large number of small shows, it wouldn't be good unless we had some kind of big festival. Tokyo Dome, which is packed with various memories for us, would be good. I thought that there was definitely no place other than the Dome."
"In the end the Dome was also put forward as an option, but beginning with something like, 'How big of a scale can four member NEWS work on?,' and with the thought that wouldn't it be better to do it at a place no other group has, the wishes of the members who wanted to do an outdoor concert were also strong and Chichibunomiya was decided on. But I was really unhappy with that. I went many times to directly negotiate with the people at the top in charge of concerts, and until the final conclusion I continued to appeal like, 'Isn't there some way we can do it at the Dome?'"
―You were so set on the Dome that you went that far.
"I still had concerns in regards to our activities as four. Yeah. Somewhere inside I continually had the feeling that something was wrong. I felt that if we could do it at the Dome we would be able to find meaning and values for doing it as four. Of course the Chichibunomiya concert was extremely great, and I can say from my heart I'm glad we could do it. A huge number of people greeted us with loud cheers. We were filled with that happiness and thankful appreciation. The moment it began I realized that, 'The place didn't matter.'"
―It was a very moving concert.
"There were probably parts where we were at our breaking points as well. I didn't realize it during the concert, but when I checked the video of the DVD at home, the atmosphere of the fans breaking down crying was shown. When I saw that I cried by myself. Like, the people who came to the show, of course they came hoping to have fun, but it had the feeling of being somewhat different from a regular concert. When I saw those facial expressions on the fans my tears wouldn't stop."
―Masuda-kun, you cried during the concert when you sang "Share," didn't you.
"I end up crying quite a lot. 'Share' wasn't originally included in the set list. We discussed it many times, and in the midst of rehearsals it turned into, 'Let's sing it after all.' It's a song where we wrote the lyrics as six people, but we didn't like the idea of there being songs we couldn't sing after becoming four, and it was like isn't there a meaning of why we should sing it exactly because of where we are now. In the first place 'Share' was a song made in 2008 at Shige's suggestion. We made it because we wanted to sing together with the fans at the venue about our feelings towards the other members and the people who come to our concerts. When I started singing, I realized that my feelings now were the same as when we wrote the lyrics. That's why I just...wasn't able to hold back."
―Then, what's the second thing that left an impression?
"Our tenth anniversary at Tokyo Dome."
―That was quick.
"Yeah. Because this concert was when I obtained the confidence that we can do NEWS as four."
―The 10th Anniversary Dome show was in September 2013. You mean that you obtained confidence more than a year after the release of "Chankapaana?"
"Of course, at the time we released 'Chankapaana' and during our activities after that, I thought, 'We're okay as four.' However, as expected somewhere in the back of my mind I had incessant worry, like, 'I wonder if we'll be okay like this?' and 'Is this alright?'"
―Did you talk with the other members about that worry you had?
"I couldn't talk about it the whole time. In March of this year the four of us went out to eat after the tour rehearsal finished. That was the first time I was able to talk about it. I shared the things I thought at the 10th Anniversary Dome show. Like, 'I can say this now, but until we did a show at Tokyo Dome I probably wasn't able to completely accept it.' After that I personally felt a sense of relief, or rather I was able to understand. More precisely I felt comfortable with it. There was a meaning above simply, 'Hey, we did the Dome.'"
―Up until that point, what kinds of things were you not able to accept?
"Everything. In regards to myself, and also about the activities we did as four. The emotions of are we doing the right thing and answers to questions like are we really succeeding as four were the same. I didn't completely think that we were doing things properly. Of course moment by moment I came to think, 'This is good,' but I didn't see the future. After that Dome show, for the first time I was able to see the future of NEWS, like, 'Well, what should we do next?'"
―Both Koyama-kun and Kato-kun said that your first dinner in a long time was 'a good gathering,' but it was also the time of that confession of Masuda-kun's.
"Yes. It's not because of that, but the third thing that's left an impression is our most recent tour. All the concerts we had after becoming four up until now, big parts of them were like concerts for our revival and showing what we can do as four. But for the tour this time we genuinely created the stage that the current us wanted to create. Without thinking at all about how we've become four, we're creating concerts by concentrating on what we really want to do and wondering what kind of stage the people coming want to see and what kinds of songs they want to hear. This is a strange way of saying it, but since NEWS became four it feels like this was really the first time we were doing a concert."
―Koyama-kun was surprised by the attention to detail in each of the member's individual costumes, but when do the ideas for costumes come to you?
"I go to see the concerts of various different people. I quite like going to someone's concert and sitting in the audience. I glance back at the audience, and think things like, 'Why have all these people come here' and 'As expected at this distance they're small and hard to see;' I examine the lighting, costumes, and production. I don't copy those, but I get inspiration; for example, supposing the performers I'm watching are wearing white costumes, I'll think, 'If this were NEWS, red costumes would be better.' Before I forget I'll make a memo in my phone right away, like, 'This style of costume in red.' While watching someone's concert I'll be thinking of completely different things (lol)."
"I imagine NEWS standing in that place. The figures of the four of us standing on stage as performers. I make an image of what kind of manner we're seen in, and wonder what we should do so that we can be seen even better. Koyama, Tegoshi, and Shige all have their own individual charm and personality. How should I put it, in regards to costumes I have a side that's something like, 'I've come to see Koyama in this manner.' It's my own arbitrary viewpoint, but I expect that there's definitely a costume that will make Koyama look as cool as possible. And that's true for Tegoshi and Shige as well. In other words, in my head I have a vision of the NEWS I want to see. Probably with a viewpoint similar to the fans, I make images like, 'I want to see this kind of Tegoshi.' Yeah. I'm probably a NEWS fan myself."
"Of course, I ask the members themselves for their opinions first. Like, 'What kind of costume do you want to wear this time?.' I begin creating them after hearing a rough theme or image, like, 'This kind of thing would be good.' We'll discuss anything, and if I don't have a hint nothing begins. I think that with just self-satisfaction you can't make something good."
―Previously you discussed with Kato-kun about what to do for the lighting, right?
"The lighting for the opening of this tour. I was pretty particular about it, but when I had to make the final decision my idea had two patterns. There was a part where I thought both options were good and it was just a matter of preference. I thought I'd ask Shige which was better, and when I called him and said, 'There's something I want you to look at,' he answered, 'Right now I'm getting a massage, but even so if Massu says come I'll go.' I said, 'Come right away!' (lol). And then he decided for me, like, 'Isn't it this one.' Both Koyama and Tegoshi said that the pattern Shige chose was good."
―Are there many things you turn to Kato-kun for?
"There's quite a lot. There are many things that Koyama and Tegoshi don't comprehend when I say, 'This is what I want to create' (lol). I don't want to do things that others are doing, and because I want do things that no one else has there aren't images or videos I can reference. So there are many things that I have to explain with words, but my vocabulary is lacking and there are things I can't communicate well to the two of them. Of course I'm also happy when they say, 'Hmm, I'll leave it to you!,' but Shige tries to share the image with things like, 'So that's somewhat like this scene in this movie?'"
―Well, everyone says that Masuda-kun has 'strong preferences,' but what do you think the reason for having those is?
"I wonder. But, the first Johnny's concert I saw was the 1998 New Year's Countdown at Tokyo Dome. I had just become a Jr., and I received tickets and watched it from the audience with my mother. I guess it was about the third row from the back. Even now I clearly remember the impact and emotion of that time."
―Wasn't your preference for the revival concert at Tokyo Dome because you had that formative experience?
"That might be right. I think that if I hadn't been moved by the Countdown I saw, I wouldn't be an idol now. That's why my preferences, or rather to me it's like a sense of responsibility, but when we do a tour we do dozens of performances. There's the tendency to think of one time standing on stage as just one of many, but that one time is one with lots of responsibility. Because for the people who come it's one of one; that stage is everything. We can't do with having a bad condition for one time. That's why I may be told I have strong preferences, but personally I think it's that I have a sense of responsibility. 'Cause I want everyone to experience the same emotion and impact that I did when I was eleven years old."
―Is that right.
"'Cause, I get to design our costumes, and isn't that a huge responsibility. If we're told, 'What's with those uncool costumes,' it's completely my fault (lol). I think that because I'm doing it I really need to make good ones. I feel that my sense of responsibility has gotten stronger year by year."
―Next, what kinds of things do you think now in regards towards the two who left the group?
"At first, as expected, there were things I thought, but. Now I can come into contact with them in a normal manner. How should I say it, even though working together didn't work out well, despite that I really like the two of them after all, yeah."
―You appeared together with Nishikido-kun on Ippuku!, right?
"Yes. We could talk normally. Like, 'How are you? How's everything going lately?.' Since I'm the kohai I was polite as always though (lol). Even prior to Ippuku!, when I met Nishikido-kun at a music program he asked, 'Is NEWS going well?.' Like, we've become able to have that kind of conversation. I wondered if he said it because it was me, and it was difficult figuring out what was good to say, but I was happy."
―How about Yamashita-kun?
"Now that time has passed I can talk normally with Yamashita-kun as well. I guess it was about one year ago, he invited me out like, 'Let's go drinking.' We had one conversation where he asked about my plans, and when I answered, 'How about ~~?' he said, 'That day doesn't work.' A few months later he contacted me again and when I said, 'Then, how about ~~?' I again got, 'That day doesn't work.' So now that's happened two times in a row (lol). When I said, 'Do you really have interest in going?' we both laughed. Like, we've become able to have that kind of conversation."
―Next, Koyama-kun called Masuda-kun "the eyes of NEWS," but in your eyes what manner is the future of NEWS projected in?
"When I'm asked, 'What's your dream?,' I always answer, 'To keep continuing.' Of course it's good to set a big goal and aim towards that. But right now we're already getting to do huge things. That's why I think my dream is to keep protecting our present condition. We know just how hard it is to maintain an existing status. There are lots of things we need to do to protect the present, and also many things we want to do. Because the four of us want to continue NEWS forever and ever."
―Finally, I guess I'll ask about Tegoshi-kun. In those eyes of yours, what kind of person is projected?
"Hmm. At the least, out of all the people I know I guess he is the most stubborn and hates losing the most. Isn't he extremely strong-willed. In his dictionary it's unbelievable for him to imagine losing to someone in things he thinks he can do (lol). He's trustworthy. If I ask, 'I wonder which is better?,' he'll say assertively, 'This one for sure!.' He declares everything with confidence, so I end up saying, 'Okay, I understand.' I guess there are quite a lot of things I depend on him for."
―Tegoshi-kun doesn't hesitate.
"Even if he's not certain, when he has to decide he will with confidence, like, 'This one!.' Although of course there are times when we have different opinions (lol). At those times we talk it out and mix our opinions and find a compromise. I'd say quite a lot, well there are a few parts that resemble each other, but our personalities are completely different. Tegoshi is type B and I'm type O, but don't they say that free-spirited type B guys and big-hearted type O girls get along well? Like, the type O girlfriend will listen peacefully to the type B boyfriend's conversation; I think in someway or other there are parts that come together like that (lol)."
―That's kind of a strange relationship (lol)
"Because our meeting was strange from the beginning. Originally, before NEWS was formed, Johnny-san told us, 'You two should work together.' Those words were the starting point and we ended up singing together. After that, the sequence of events was that we were told, 'I want a group that can sing,' and NEWS was formed. Maybe this is arrogant, but there's a part of me that thinks that if Tegoshi and I hadn't met NEWS might not have come into existence. I don't really know though. At the least, if NEWS hadn't been formed, I definitely wouldn't be at this place now, and even Tegomass wouldn't have been born. I think I'm able to pursue singing this much because I met Tegoshi, and also the reason I've become so particular about songs is due to my meeting with Tegoshi. I'm seriously grateful. Because my meeting with Tegoshi connected me to both NEWS and Tegomass, it was such a huge meeting. It's strange, isn't it. 'Cause despite how much the situation has changed, the two of us have continued singing together without change."
―I wonder if you'll keep singing together from here on out as well?
"I wonder how it'll be. But, yeah. Won't we keep singing together forever."
―Okay, this is really the final question. Who do you think loves NEWS the most now?
"I wonder who? Of course the members, the fans watching over NEWS, the staff supporting us closely, I think that all of this together is NEWS. I think that everyone loves NEWS strongly in the same way. Although I want to say it's me (lol). Isn't it because everyone loves NEWS with the same strength and emotion that NEWS is continuing now."
Next month is Tegoshi Yuya! Masuda passes the baton of bonds...
Before NEWS was formed,
We started singing together, didn't we.
Because it was from our Jr. era, it's already well over ten years.
Over that period, our status and surroundings and number of members,
Even though many things have changed,
The only thing that didn't change was the two of us singing together.
The reason I've become this serious about the thing called "singing"
Is because I met Tegoshi, I think.
From here on as well,
Let's go on doing things only the two of us can do
And things that we can do because there are the two of us.
In order for NEWS to shine more and more brightly.
The two of us don't resemble each other at all, but
I wonder what it is.........From here on as well let's keep at it.