• Kyodo


All Nippon Airways Co. launched a project Wednesday in collaboration with Japanese all-girl pop group AKB48 to push young Asians to travel more.

With the launch of the project with the pop group, which has gained popularity across Asia, “We hope that we’ll be able to contribute to connecting Japan and the rest of Asia in the cultural arena,” ANA Senior Vice President Ken Nishimura said at an event to announce the program.

As part of the joint initiative, ANA, which is expanding its business in Asia, will support former members of AKB48 who have been transferred to its sister groups overseas — Jakarta-based JKT48 and Shanghai-based SNH48 — by reporting on their activities and challenges abroad on a special website for the project.

Wearing ANA cabin attendant uniforms, some AKB48 members, including Mayu Watanabe and Sayaka Akimoto, as well as members of SNH48 attended Wednesday’s event.

Asked about the kinds of challenges they want to take on, Mariya Suzuki, who has been transferred to SNH48, said: “I’m studying Chinese now. I’d like to be able to appear on (Chinese) TV shows without a translator.”

ANA will also broadcast programs featuring Yuko Oshima and Watanabe — among the most prominent members of AKB48 — for the carrier’s domestic flights in May and international flights from May to June.

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