NEWS performed over the weekend at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo as part of its 15th anniversary celebration. The performance marked the first time group members Keiichiro Koyama and Shigeaki Kato faced their fans since their underage drinking scandal took place in June.
Before the concert start, Koyama spoke to the press to express his gratitude for being welcomed back by his fans. "I did not think I'd be able to stand on stage normally again," he said.
In June, Koyama and Kato were revealed to have encouraged two underage women to drink at a party. Koyama suspended his activities for 19 days as a result of the controversy, resuming his work in time for the release of the group's latest single "BLUE" on June 27.
Koyama had a serious expression on his face as he talked about the controversy. Although he does not deny what occurred, he explains that he was unaware of the girls' ages at the time. His goal is to make things right by being the type of person his fans can look up to.
"I didn't think I'd be doing this live for our 15th anniversary, but with the warm cheers of my fans, and the support of my staff, I've been able to face these two days...I plan on conveying my appreciation to my fans through music," he said.
During the concert itself, the group did not talk about the controversies its recently been involved in. A representative from the group's record label said this was a deliberate decision.
"We would like to let fans who are coming to the live truly enjoy it without casting a dark cloud over it," the representative said.
And enjoyed it they did. A total of 110,000 people attended the concerts over the weekend. The cheers from the crowd showed that the group still has plenty of fans, and enthusiastic support from them.