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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 5, The AKB48 Business Model.
The idol group AKB48 uses a different, more personal business model for idol groups and has changed how many groups in Japan and abroad operate. In this lesson, we'll learn about this news story.

Lesson focus

AKB means "Akihabara," which is a neighborhood located in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.
At the end of 2005, a large female idol group debuted, produced by Mr. Akimoto Yasushi.
This group was called "AKB48.”
Its concept is "idols you can meet.”
AKB48 dramatically changes what idols are—from just "adoration" and idols that are only seen on TV and in magazines, to a group fans can approach and meet.
This business model is probably most notably characterized by a feature in which fans can support and help their favourite idol succeed by investing considerable amounts of money.
One such method is included in their CDs, which offer a "handshaking ticket" or a "voting ticket."
There is no limit on purchase amounts per person, unlike bargain goods in supermarkets. So, if a fan wants to shake hands with the idol more times (or for a longer time) or give her an edge in the voting polls, he/she can spend hundreds of thousands of yen to buy a large number of CDs.
Notably, the general elections of AKB are now as popular as (or more popular than) national elections.
Fans try to acquire multiple voting tickets so that their favorite idols can rise to the top of AKB48.
Fans literally run from east to west to buy CDs.
Using this system, which encourages fans to invest money and creates a sense of unity at the same time, AKB48’s popularity spread rapidly.
Nowadays, there are more and more idol groups coming out under the same business model, not only in Japan, but in many regions including East Asia.


Those are the key facts about the the AKB48 business model.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!