Celebrating 60 Years of Philippine Japan Friendship with AKB48

Celebrating 60 Years of Philippine Japan Friendship with AKB48

60 years of anything is a feat worthy of the record books. In 2016, the Philippines and Japan achieves an impressive milestone – 60 years of diplomatic relations. These six decades are supported by economic, political, and technological cooperation as well as strong tourism and trade ties.  To continue this successful partnership, our two countries also need to capture the hearts and minds of the youth, since the children are our future.


Japan is home to plethora of music genres and traditions and idol groups are one of their most popular products. In the idol industry, AKB48 is a juggernaut that stands above the rest. Founded in 2005, AKB48 boasts over 100 members, divided into five teams (Teams A, K, B, 4, and 8). Over the years, this social phenomenon tops record after record on the Oricon, the Japanese record charts.

Team 8 is a branch of the AKB48 group sponsored by Toyota. They are branded as “the idols who go to meet fans.” Each member of Team 8 represents one of the 47 prefectures of Japan.

Team 8 visited the Philippines last year during the Cool Japan Festival in Trinoma. This time around, a new batch of returning visitors and first-timers showcased their talents before a hyped Filipino crowd. Of the 47, 12 members of Team 8 were able to travel to the Philippines. Gyouten Yurina from Kagawa, Hamamatsu Riona from Tokushima, Fukuchi Rena (Pena) from Saga, Okabe Rin (Rinrin) from Ibaraki, Shimizu Maria from Gunma, and Yoshikawa Nanase from Chiba were coming back for a second round in the Philippines. Nagano Serika from Osaka, Hitomi Kotone (Kocchan) from Okayama, Shimoaoki Karin from Kagoshima, Satou Nanami (Nanamin) from Iwate, Tanakawa Hijiri (Hijirin) and Takahashi Ayane from Saitama were the six lucky girls to experience Filipino hospitality for the first time!  [Note: Their nicknames are in parenthesis]

Front Row from Eastern Japan (L-R): Satou Nanami, Tanakawa Hijiri, Okabe Rin, Shimizu Maria, Takahashi Ayane, and Yoshikawa Nanase. Back Row from Western Japan (L-R): Nagano Serika, Hitomi Kotone, Gyouten Yurina, Hamamatsu Riona, Fukuchi Rena, and Shimoaoki Karin.

Interview with Team 8

Fluent in English, Riona kicked off the presscon, saying they were all having a great time. Their very first, exclusive Fan-meet with their Filipino fans made this year a milestone for the group. Hijirin agreed, commenting that Filipino fans were very kind and “powerful.” She was glad to perform for them and meet them up close. Karin conveyed an important message for aspiring idols in the audience. First and foremost, they need to believe in themselves and have a good attitude.

Like Riona, several other Team 8 girls have been to the Philippines before. Rena was part of the contingent that performed last year. She’s gotten to enjoy her time on ABS-CBN’s noontime show, Showtime. She even expressed interest in learning more dancing from there. Nanase was much younger when she went to the Philippines. Her memories of eating Halo-halo were so memorable that she wanted to eat even more while she was here.


Rinrin shared what she thought was the key component of Philippine-Japan friendship – mutual care for each other. Yurina had many Japanese-Filipino friends back home and desired to develop a new one with a local Pinoy.

There was so much to learn and experience for the bright eyed girls of Team 8. While visiting churches, Nanami wanted to swim at our beautiful beaches with her friends. Maria loved bananas in Japan and she was overwhelmed by the sheer variety of Bananas at our neighborhood supermarkets. Ayane was adorably curious, wondering what Santa was like in the Philippines sans snow, an important part of Japanese Christmas. 

Emile Josef

Jack of All Trades, Master of None, I'll write about anything under the sun. Anime, Games, Comics, or Food, I'll give it a looksie, as long as it's good.

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