AKB48, other celebrities to advertise reconstruction bonds

JIJI

The Finance Ministry is planning to tap the AKB48 girl group and other celebrities engaged in charity work following the March 2011 disasters to help boost sales of reconstruction bonds for individual investors, sources said Tuesday.

Sales of the reconstruction bonds, which are designed to raise funds for postdisaster rebuilding work, are waning in line with a fall in interest rates.

The sources said the Finance Ministry will announce the plan May 29 at the earliest.

As a first step, the ministry will launch a commercial in June featuring Mongolian sumo wrestler Hakuho.

AKB48 members and Homare Sawa, captain of the national women’s soccer team, will star in later commercials.

The campaign will use a broad range of media, including newspapers, posters and television, to persuade investors to purchase the bonds, the sources said.

Since December, the ministry has been selling all JGBs for individual investors as reconstruction bonds to raise funds for rebuilding areas hit by last year’s giant earthquake and tsunami.

Reconstruction bonds for individual investors got off to a solid start as the launch coincided with the winter bonus season. Sales doubled to ¥745.4 billion from the level in September.

However, dipping interest rates have since put a damper on the bonds’ popularity.

In March, sales stood at a mere ¥384.8 billion and total sales through this month are unlikely to reach the ministry’s target of ¥1.5 trillion, the sources said.

The ministry started offering a new type of reconstruction bond in March that comes with gold and silver memorial coins.

It will announce a new design of the coins next week, the sources said.