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.
Japan plans to boost financial aid to developing countries to help them tackle climate change by providing about ¥1.3 trillion (about $10.6 billion) a year by 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday. (The Japan News)
The Japanese government plans to tighten its energy-efficiency standards for lamps to effectively ban production and imports of fluorescents and incandescents, informed sources said Thursday. (Jiji Press)
Japan stayed bottom among 32 comparable Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member states in public spending on education for the sixth straight year in 2012, an OECD survey has shown. (Jiji Press)
A 60-year-old man in Tochigi Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, who claims to be an exorcist was arrested Thursday on suspicion of killing a diabetic boy by halting the administration of insulin, police said. (Japan Today)
Police and animal protection center officials captured the last of two emus, an ostrich-like bird from Australia, that escaped from a farm in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, earlier this month. (Japan Times)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested the head of an adult video (AV) label specializing in productions featuring gay men for employing an underage male actor, reports Nippon News Network. (Tokyo Reporter)
Fukuoka Prefectural Police on Wednesday will re-arrest an upper-ranking member of the Kudo-kai organized crime group for participation in two arson attacks, reports the Sankei Shimbun. (Tokyo Reporter)
Three bodies have been retrieved from a boat found floating in the Sea of Japan off the coast of Fukui Prefecture on Sunday, two days after a similar discovery in waters off a neighboring prefecture, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 23). (Tokyo Reporter)