The highly-popular idol group AKB48 has announced during the HaruCon Spring concert at the Kanagawa Stadium in Yokohama on Saturday that they are set to launch three new overseas sister groups.
The three new groups are TPE48, based in Taipei, MNL48, based in Manila, and BNK48, based in Bangkok.
No official plans had been announced for the spin-off groups as of the moment, but they have opened Facebook pages for each groups. You may follow facebook.com/mnl48official for MNL48, facebook.com/tpe48official for TPE48 and facebook.com/bnk48official for BNK48.
AKB48 founder and producer Yasushi Akimoto previously expressed an intention to form a spin-off group based in Manila.
In an interview with Anime Pilipinas last November, Maxim Beatty, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Hallo Hallo Inc., says that they plan to build an “AKB48 theater” inside the Cool Japan Mall complex which would reportedly house the MNL48 group. The location of the complex is currently unknown at the moment.
The three new groups follows the previous two (2) overseas spin-offs of the AKB48, which are JKT48 based in Jakarta, Indonesia and SNH48 based in Shanghai, China.
The idol group also has Japan-based sister groups, which are SKE48 (Sakae, Nagoya), NMB48 (Namba, Osaka), HKT48 (Fukuoka), and NGT48 (Niigata), and the “official” rival group Nogizaka46.