Photo/IllutrationSigned forms appealing for the continuation of idol group SMAP are bound together into bunches each containing 1,000 signatures. (Provided by Kyoko Kimura)

  • Photo/Illustraion

AMAGASAKI, Hyogo Prefecture--An online campaign by fans of male idol group SMAP begging it to reconsider the decision to call it a day has gathered more than 370,000 names.

The hugely popular group, formed in the 1988, plans to disband by the year-end.

Fans of the group here, west of Osaka, initiated the appeal campaign just two months ago. The final result was announced Nov. 28.

“We know it is not so simple, but we wanted to tell the SMAP members that we will wait for the day when they decide to restart the group,” Kyoko Kimura, representing the fans behind the campaign, explained.

The project team 5-SMILE, comprised of 70 or so hardcore SMAP fans, was founded in September after Kimura, who is 46 and a company employee, used a Twitter account to make a formal appeal for the group to keep going.

Kimura and her team launched the online signature-collecting campaign calling for the “continuation of SMAP and its activity as a group” from Sept. 22.

The project asked supporters to print out a petition form, sign and mail it to an apartment in Amagasaki, which is owned by another representative, Akie Tanabe. The 48-year-old homemaker offered to use it as an office and the base for the task of counting signatures.

The deadline was Oct. 31. By then, about 373,500 signatures had been received at the office, some even from China and Taiwan. The counting took almost a month to finalize.