In order to promote Taipei to Japanese tourists, the city government recently spent nearly NT$7 million on inviting three members of Japanese girl group AKB48 to Taipei; however, the choice of members has been criticized by local media and the recording industry.
AKB48, the largest girl band in Japan - whose 90-plus members range from their early teens to late 20s - are selected from auditions held regularly in Japan and divided within "teams" based on age and popularity. The band finished its most recent membership popularity tournament in June.
Haruka Katayama, Maria Abe and Ayaka Kikuchi, the three members of AKB48, arrived in Taipei on Monday for a four-day trip.
The city's Department of Information and Tourism (DOIT) said the three singers will visit tourist attractions in the city and film an hourlong television show which will be broadcast in Japan this summer.
The three members signed a NT$6.9 million one-year contract with the DOIT to promote Taipei in Japan, the city government said.
The local recording industry and media have lashed out at the government for forking over such a huge amount on inviting relatively unknown band members to promote the city.
According to the tournament result, Haruka Katayama and Ayaka Kikuchi are ranked 34 and 51 respectively among the performers of AKB48, while Maria Abe is not even within the ranking.
The death toll from landslides in Hiroshima increased to 70 on Wednesday, while 18 people remained missing after the first of the rain-induced landslides hit the northern part of the western Japan city on Aug. 20. (Jiji Press)
Users of free wireless Internet connections at Japan's Narita, Kansai and Kobe airports are vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping of their e-mail and web browsing, a study by an information and communications specialist showed Tuesday. (Bangkok Post)
The number of babies born in Japan in the January to June period dropped 2.7 percent from a year earlier to 496,391, pointing to the possibility of the annual figure slipping below the 1 million mark for the first time on record, government data showed Tuesday. (Japan Times)
A Japanese district court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday to pay some 49 million yen in compensation over the suicide of an evacuee from the March 2011 nuclear accident at the company's Fukushima No. 1 power plant. (Jiji Press)
Thai police said Monday (Aug 25) they have questioned five women who were paid up to US$12,500 each by a Japanese man known to them as "Jack" to act as surrogate mothers. The case emerged after nine babies were found with nannies in a Bangkok apartment. (channelnewsasia.com)