Japanese tourists rank second for the largest group of visitors of Taiwan. According to the Department of Information and Tourism (DOIT), there were 1.43 million Japanese visitors in Taiwan last year. In order to further promote the capital of the autonomous island, the city government of Taipei has invited some members of the Japanese female idol group AKB48 in the city. Despite the group’s fame in Japan, some local media even the recording industry criticized the government’s choice.
Out of the official 48 members of the female group, the DOIT of Taipei has chosen and commissioned Ayaka Kikuchi, Maria Abe, and Haruka Katayama to promote the city of Taipei back home. The three relatively unknown members signed a NT$6.9 million (approx. 230,000 US dollars) contract for their one-year mission. The government was questioned by the local media and recording industry for shelling out a huge amount of money. But the DOIT said that the three members have been observed by the city government for a long time. With their clean image and scandal-free reputation, the city was convinced that Kikuchi, Abe, and Katayama were the right choice among the members of AKB48 to represent the city.
AKB48 members usually appear in magazines and some TV dramas. AKB48 has a number of sub-groups with members decided through election. According to AKB48’s website, Ayaka Kikuchi is part of Team A, and Maria Abe is part of Team K, while Haruka Katayama belongs to Team B. Abe has recently been chosen as a model in a Japanese fashion magazine.
[via China Post]