Asia News: AKB48 Returns; World Expo Tickets; Jacky Cheung Adds In Singapore

AKB48 held concert ¡°Are You Ready For It?¡± at Taipei Arena in Taipei,Taiwan,China on 19 October, 2019
AKB48’S A CROWD: Japan’s top female idol collective, AKB48, performs at Taipei Arena in Taiwan on Oct. 18, 2019. The full 48-member troupe played its first full-house concert in three years April 29 at the new Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Japan. (TPG / Getty Images)


AKB48 Returns To Stage

Japan’s top female idol collective, AKB48, performed its first-full scale concert – meaning a full house with screaming allowed – in three years on April 29 at the new Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Japan. The 48-member group performed more than three dozen songs. The group also made a startling announcement: Soon, AKB’s innovative “team system” would be abolished.

AKB48 contains 85 members at any given time divided into five subgroups: Team A, Team K, Team B, Team 4 and Team 8. Though occasionally all the teams perform together, for the most part the separate teams do stand-alone concerts or combine and mix with one another for special events. Each team has its own colors and captains and, by design, tend to have their own dedicated fans.

According to the Japanese pop culture site Sora24News, the team system has been a seminal feature of the collective since it debuted in 2005 and quickly reshaped the entire J-pop industry. The purpose of the team system is flexibility within the AKB entertainment universe, which is as much about selling merchandise and “access” to members as it is about selling music and tickets.

In fact, some music critics have claimed that the AKB model effectively changed J-pop for the worse by downplaying the music in favor of promotional gambits that tie all the various sales elements together by means of fan clubs and events. For instance, tickets to concerts were easier to obtain for people who bought more singles.

According to Sora24News, though the teams will be phased out gradually in coming months, the entire organization will remain. In fact, it appears that with the dissolution of the teams, more members will be available for the regular performances at the dedicated AKB48 Theater in Tokyo’s Akihabara district.

During the pandemic, the number of members who performed (and met with paying visitors) at each show was limited to eight, but now the number will be doubled to 16.

World Expo Ticket Prices Soar

Kyodo News reports ticket prices for the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka, Japan, will be 30% more expensive than originally announced due to inflation and unexpectedly higher labor costs associated with tighter security measures. When the Expo was first announced, the tentative ticket price for adults was 6,000 yen ($44), but now it will be 8,000 yen.

Security has blown up the projected operating costs for the Expo, which was originally projected to be 80.9 billion yen. The final ticket price will be set sometime in June, and tickets will go on sale at the end of November some 500 days before the event opens on April 13, 2025 on the artificial island of Yumeshima in Osaka Bay.

Tickets bought before the Expo starts will be sold at a discount. The organizers predict most visitors will attend during the second half of the intended run for the Expo, which will coincide with the summer holidays in Japan. In all, 28 million people are expected to attend, including 3.5 million from overseas.

So far, 153 countries and regions say they will participate.


Jacky Cheung Adds More Dates

After selling out six concerts at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in a matter of hours after tickets went on sale, Cantopop superstar Jacky Cheung added three more shows at the same venue to take place July 28-30.

The nine-show Singapore stand is part of Cheung’s “60+ Concert Tour” of Asia to celebrate his 61st birthday, and marks the first time an artist has performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium that many times during a single concert tour.

The concerts’ organizer, Unusual Entertainment, has cautioned fans to purchase tickets only through authorized vendors as there has been an epidemic of ticket scams for large-scale shows in Singapore in recent months.