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Japanese pop singer Amuro to quit showbiz in Sept. next year

2017.09.25 | Okinawa

File photo shows popular Japanese singer Namie Amuro singing "Never End," the theme song for the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa Prefecture in 2000, to the leaders of the G-8 nations at a dinner party welcoming them in the prefectural capital Naha in July 2000. Amuro said on her website on Sept. 20, 2017, she will quit show business on Sept. 16, 2018. (Kyodo)

Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro, who has a strong fan base in Asia, said Wednesday she will quit show business in September next year.

"I, Namie Amuro, would like to take this opportunity to inform all of my fans of my decision to retire as of September 16, 2018," the 40-year-old singer of megahits such as "Can You Celebrate?" said on her website.

The surprise announcement by Amuro, who became a fashion phenomenon in the 1990s, came after she marked the 25th anniversary of her music career on Saturday and performed a commemorative concert on the weekend in her home prefecture of Okinawa.

"I could not have gone 25 years without your support, for which I am eternally grateful," she wrote on her birthday, vowing to make this year one "filled with wonderful memories for me and the fans together."

"I plan to make the last year of my music career meaningful by focusing my full attention on creating a final album and performing at concerts," she added.

Amuro made her professional debut in 1992 as part of a group called "Super Monkey's," after which she became a solo singer in 1995.

Her performances as both a singer and dancer captivated fans in Japan and elsewhere in Asia and she eventually emerged as one of the major stars in Japan, churning out a string of hits including "Chase the Chance," "Body Feels Exit," "Don't wanna cry," and "Sweet 19 Blues." 

Some of her biggest hits in the 1990s were composed by Tetsuya Komuro. "Can You Celebrate?" sold more than 2 million copies, while her first album "Sweet 19 Blues," was a huge hit, selling 3 million copies. 

She also won music awards including the prestigious Japan Record Award for two years in a row and marked several milestones as a singer, performing overseas including in South Korea and Taiwan.

A native of Okinawa Prefecture, Amuro sang "Never End" at a welcome reception for leaders of the Group of Eight nations at their summit in Okinawa in 2000.

Clad in a miniskirt, thick-soled boots and brown dyed hair, Amuro also became a fashion icon, creating a phenomenon known as "Amuraa," with many young girls and women copying her fashion, hairstyle and makeup.

Her popularity also paved the way for other artists from Okinawa including all-girl pop group Speed.

She married in 1997 at the peak of her career to Masaharu Maruyama, known as Sam from Japanese pop group TRF. She made a comeback the next year and performed on NHK's year-end music show.

The couple, who have a son, divorced in 2002.

Amuro went through a turbulent time when her mother was murdered in 1999. 

In recent years, she expanded her fan base from people in her generation to those in their teens. Demonstrating her continued popularity, her 2008 album "Best Fiction" was a huge hit.

==Kyodo

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