A mega Johnny’s group created to help raise money to support the children affected by the Great Hanshin 1995 quake by donating the money raised towards their education. The group was made of all the members of the groups, TOKIO, V6 & Kinki Kids and was formed in 1998.
J-Friends focused on doing charity events/concerts and released six singles to help bring in donations for the cause. For their singles J-Friends had popular international artists involved such as, Michael Jackson, Maurice White, Dianne Warren, Elton John and Jon Bon Jovi. They also used popular national talent like B’z vocalist Inaba Koshi as well.
The group disbanded in 2003 after raising about 874million yen (roughly about 11million USD today).
Shortly after the March 11, 2011 Tohoko earthquake and tsunami Johnny’s announced that they had decided to help the region recover with a charity program titled Marching J. This program, unlike J-Friends, is for all members of the Johnny’s & Associates agency to participate in and is for raising funds for several projects to help the Tohoko region as it recovers.
The initial fund raising came from events in Tokyo that tried to incorporate all of the debuted Johnny’s at events where they would give talks and some would perform a song or two as fans could filter through next to the stage after giving a donation. Eventually they moved on to an online fundraiser by creating special videos that anyone with a web connection and a credit card could purchase the right to watch for 30 days for each video. And they have been keeping the videos on a rotation to prompt fans to buy the right to watch the new ones that come out to replace the older ones.
Recently the organization seems to be focusing on not only helping the Tohoko region but to create stronger bonds with China while doing so. This can be seen with the two latest programs that were announced; the first being an exchange program for children who lost parents in the Tohoko earthquake with children who lost parents in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, and the other is helping fund the rental of a pair of pandas for the Tohoko region to help raise the spirits of the children on the region and should help increase tourism and jobs in the area as well.
There has been no end date given for Marching J but it can be assumed that as long as Tohoko remains in need for rebuilding, which should still be for several more years, the program will continue.
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