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OSAKA (Kyodo) Inspired by the popularity of all-girl “idol” groups such as Akihabara’s AKB48, business establishments in Osaka’s Minami district are planning to form an all-boy version to draw more young women and boost the local economy.

A major entertainment agency will handle the new group, which is expected to make its debut in June with a performance at a hall in Kintetsu’s flagship department store in Abeno Ward, sources close to the project said.

A number of idol groups have been formed in various communities, but an all-boy group will be a novelty.

An audition will be held in mid-March to select the boys, who must be no older than 20 and able to commute to Osaka. The project organizers will start accepting applications for the group in late February.

Those chosen will receive intensive singing and dancing lessons to prepare for their June debut.

Just as AKB48 holds regular performances at the AKB48 Theater in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, the all-boy group will perform regularly at the Abeno hall, possibly at a pace of once a month, the sources said. The hall has a capacity of around 400.

Another all-girl idol group, NMB48, a “sister unit” of AKB48, has already become popular in Namba, in Osaka’s Minami district.

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