China has figured large in performances by Japanese singers and artists in recent years.
Much-talked about concerts include a Sept. 16 gig in Beijing by the all-male pop group SMAP.
The same month, the all-girl idol group AKB48 sent fans into a frenzy at a live show in Shanghai.
In 2005, and again in 2008, "visual-kei" glam rock band L'Arc-en-Ciel performed in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Singers Namie Amuro and Mai Kuraki performed in China in 2009.
The girl pop duo Puffy, rock band Anzen Chitai, boy band W-inds, female R&B singer MISIA, and glam rock band Luna Sea followed suit in 2010.
Despite often strained bilateral ties in the political sphere, Japanese artists are making a name for themselves in promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries.
However, their forays into China are also influenced by a business slump in the Japanese music industry, experts say.
The Asahi Shimbun tries to answer aspects of the industry in the following Q&A format:
Q: SMAP took the stage in Beijing. I feel like more and more Japanese singers are performing in China.
A: That's true. There have been an increasing number of concerts by leading Japanese singers. In September, AKB48 and the all-male dance group Exile performed in China.
Q: How come?
A: The SMAP concert was regarded as a symbol of Japan-China friendship. But many singers are performing in China because the Japanese music industry is trying to make inroads into the Chinese market.
A: In Japan, sales of CDs and other music products have halved in the past 10 years. Given the situation, the industry has set its eyes on overseas markets. It is aiming to make profits by organizing concerts in China, which has a growing wealthy class due to strong economic growth.
Q: Are Japanese singers also popular in China?
A: Singers like Hideki Saijo and Noriko Sakai had been popular for some time.
Pop songstresses Ayumi Hamasaki, Namie Amuro and Mai Kuraki, as well as male idols from Johnny & Associates talent agency, aka Johnny's idols, and bossa nova singer Lisa Ono, are currently popular over there.
Q: How are they being promoted?
A: An industry group is trying to secure more gigs by promoting information on the Japanese music scene over the Internet.
It intends to set up an official website on renren.com, China's largest social networking service, and the Chinese version of Twitter by the end of the year.
Q: Do you think these groups will grow in popularity in the future?
A: Actually, they face fierce competition from South Korean pop stars.
Given the drastic drop in CD sales, the South Korean music industry set about strengthening its marketing strategies in China in the 2000s.
Today, popular South Korean singers have taken regular positions in music programs aired across China.
Q: Was Japan a late starter?
A: Yes, but there are many fans of Japanese idols, visual-kei rock bands and anime songs across the globe.
With front-running artists like SMAP making a foray into China, more and more singers may be encouraged to lift their game to make their voices heard in international markets.
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