Asian News Briefs

Check out the latest news briefs from Asia.


Theme Park Attendance Rises

Japan’s two main theme parks saw a rise in attendance over the last year. Oriental Land Co., which runs Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, announced on April 2 that the number of visitors to the two parks over the last business year was up by 4.2 percent, marking a new record.

Last year also marked the fifth anniversary of DisneySea. The parks attracted a combined attendance of 25.8 million visitors.

Meanwhile, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka reported that its attendance rose 4.6 percent during the past business year, to 8.7 million visitors.


Park Exempted From Military

It was reported on April 3 that Korean pop singer and actor Park Yong-ha has won an exemption from mandatory military service.

The 29-year-old will not have to enter the military because of an eye problem, according to the star’s management company, Yeon Yong Entertainment.

Park is a star not only in Korea but also in Japan because he starred in the TV soap opera "Winter Sonata," which is one of the most popular drama series ever shown in Japan.


Kiyoshiro Returns

Veteran Japanese rock and soul singer Kiyoshiro Imawano returned to the stage for the first time in almost a year on April 2, the day he turned 56. Early last summer, Imawano was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus and has since been undergoing treatment.

The former leader of the seminal ’70s-’80s folk-rock group RC Succession was a guest of the Blues Brothers Band during their performance at the Blue Note club in Tokyo.

Imawano sang his rendition of Wilson Pickett’s "In the Midnight Hour," a song he used to perform as his concert opener in the 1980s. Imawano once recorded an album and did a full tour with Booker T and the MGs and the Memphis Horns.

Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he went to the U.S. and made a documentary about Memphis and the history of Southern soul.

Imawano told the Nikkan Sports tabloid his doctors have yet to give him the all clear to resume his music career in full.


Foreign Record Success Uncertain

Avril Lavigne’s new album, The Best Damn Thing, is expected to do well when it’s released in Japan on April 18, but given the shaky situation surrounding foreign record sales lately, success isn’t guaranteed.

After the lead single "Girlfriend" came out on March 21, marketing magazine Original Confidence conducted a survey of music consumers to find out which demographic was most likely to purchase the full album.

As expected, males in their 20s expressed the greatest interest in the album (41 percent), with females in their 20s coming in second (26 percent).

However, when the responses were broken down, these two demographics did not necessarily say they were going to buy the record. Most of the respondents in this age group, though expressing "interest," did not state outright that they planned to purchase the album.

Only 21 percent of women in their 30s expressed interest in the album, but among these a majority said they definitely planned to buy it. Whether this finding reflected older women’s more traditional buying habits or a more dedicated appreciation of Lavigne’s music, the magazine didn’t say.