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.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has held a meeting with his top financial diplomat, as well as the Bank of Japan's governor, amid a report the "architect of Abenomics" had called for a Group of 20-wide response to the market rout. (cnbc.com)
Tokyo Electric Power, whose Fukushima Daiichi power plant was the scene of a nuclear disaster nearly five years ago, may get approval to resume nuclear power generation at another facility as soon as this summer, as Japan's nuclear safety agency is moving toward giving the "all clear" to the utility's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture. (Nikkei)
North Korea on Friday declared the scrapping of its comprehensive investigation into the issue of Japanese nationals abducted to the country decades ago, in retaliation against Tokyo's decision to impose sanctions on the reclusive state following its recent nuclear test and missile firing. (Jiji Press)
A lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who announced plans to take paternity leave has resigned over revelations that he engaged in an extra-marital affair while his wife was pregnant, reports TBS News (Feb. 12). (Tokyo Reporter)
Dubbed the "Black Widow" after the mate-eating spider, Chisako Kakehi awaits trial: Initially arrested on suspicion of murdering eight lovers for insurance payouts, her case is notorious in Japan as much for its body count as the shortcomings of the investigation. (scmp.com)
The Kobe District Court on Friday sentenced the daughter-in-law of a woman, who is believed to have masterminded a series of murders in the western Japan city of Amagasaki, to 23 years in prison. (Japan Today)
Los Angeles alternative rock outfit Red Hot Chili Peppers and Icelandic post-rock trio Sigur Ros were among acts named Friday to perform at the 20th anniversary of Fuji Rock Festival in July. (Japan Times)