Idols Selling Gov. Bonds

Japan’s biggest-selling pop act, AKB48, has been recruited to sell government bonds earmarked to raise funds for reconstruction in the region affected by last year’s massive quake.

The all-girl idol collective whose total membership, including alternates, numbers more than 100, already appears in various configurations in countless advertising campaigns for every product and service imaginable.

The campaign for “reconstruction bonds” will start this summer and be incorporated into the group’s concert tour.
It’s not the first time the Japanese government has turned to celebrities to sell securities.

Two years ago it used other female stars to push GBs with the hook that women really dig guys who invest in Japan’s future. Japan has likely the worst public debt in the industrialized world, but yield on government bonds is pretty low. A 10-year bond will earn only 0.88 interest.

AKB48 earned more than $200 million in digital sales alone last year. The group’s latest single, “Manatsu no Sounds Good,” predictably entered the Oricon chart at No. 1, selling 1.171 million copies on the first day of release and setting a new record, a feat media pundits credit to the upcoming “election” of members who will perform in the next “project.”

Purchase of one copy of the single affords the buyer one vote. The election will be June 6 at the Budokan arena.