AKB48 are celebrating their best-selling album to date after it was announced this week that their latest release "Koko ni ita yo" will debut at No. 1 in the Oricon rankings on June 20 after selling 602,000 copies in its first week. It is a record for the all-girl band and comes 11 years and two months after Morning Musume became the first girl group to smash the 500,000 barrier.
The high profile of the band has been attributed to a recent campaign to find new members. The new member selection process, the third in the band's history, began on June 9 -- the day after the album was released. Also, in the Oricon singles chart, AKB48's "Everyday, Katyusha" is set to enter at the No. 3 spot, marking the third consecutive week that the band has made it into the top three.
Another reason that has been mooted for the current surge in the band's popularity, is that "Koko ni ita yo," which was released on June 8, was originally scheduled for release in April. The release date was pushed back following the Tohoku earthquake, creating a long wait and a sense of anticipation for fans.
The band's popularity is not limited to Japan, however. On June 12, an official AKB48 shop opened in Taiwan. The event, which was attended by members of the band, drew 500 fans.© Japan Today