AKB48 (pronounced A.K.B. Forty-eight) are a Japanese idol girl group named after the Akihabara (Akiba for short) area in Tokyo, where the group's theater is located. The group has expanded since then to include over 130 members as of December 2015, aged from their early teens to their mid-20s. AKB48's producer, Yasushi Akimoto, wanted to form a girl group with its own theater (unlike pop groups performing occasional concerts and seen on television) and performing daily so fans could always see them live. This "idols you can meet" concept includes teams which can rotate performances and perform simultaneously at several events and "handshake" events, where fans can meet group members. Akimoto has expanded the AKB48 concept to several sister groups in China, Japan and Indonesia, with upcoming groups announced for the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, which makes it the largest idol group in Asia. The group is one of the highest-earning musical performers in Japan, with 2013 sales of over $128 million, and has been characterized as a social phenomenon. As of June 2017, the group has sold over 50 million records, including over 6 million albums. AKB48 is the highest selling musical act in Japan in terms of singles sold. AKB48's thirty-five latest singles have topped the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, with thirty singles selling over a million copies each. Their highest selling single, "Tsubasa wa Iranai", sold over 2.5 million in 2016 according to Billboard / Soundscan.
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