AKB48 Producer Looks to Expand Idol Franchise to Hokkaido
posted on by Chris Nishijima
AKB48 Producer Yasushi Akimoto appeared this past week on popular TV personality Terry Itō's Friday Scoop show. Among the topics up for discussion, Akimoto brought up AKB48's sister groups throughout Japan. Due to the popularity of the idea behind AKB48 as "local idols," the franchise has spread to a number of different cities, including Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka. Akimoto followed up by saying that the producers of AKB48 are "currently considering Hokkaido as the next base of operations for a new sister group."
Akimoto explained that it would be nice for idol groups like AKB48 to become more widespread, as their geographic association could help raise regional pride, similar to that of a baseball or soccer team. While there are no formal plans to create a Hokkaido sister group at this time, Itō agreed that it seems like a good idea. He said that the regional fever in Hokkaido is already strong, referencing the craze over the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters local baseball team.
In addition to their domestic sister groups, AKB48 has others located in major foreign cities as well, including SNH48 in Shanghai and JKT48 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The main AKB48 group recently held their annual general election, where Mayu Watanabe was chosen as the most popular member of the year and new team leader.