On March 26 during the “AKB48 Solo Concert” at Yokohama Stadium, it was announced that AKB48 will launch 3 new groups in Asia. Taiwan’s TPE48, Manila’s MNL48, and Bangkok’s BNK48 will simultaneously start within this year. They will be joining Jakarta’s JKT48 (started 2011) and Shanghai’s SNH48 (2012).
At the concert, the words “News Flash” appeared on the back screen during the end of the encore. Following the words “New Group Creation”, a Japanese map and world map were displayed, which then zoomed in on Taipei. TPE48 was originally planned to start activities in the summer of 2012, but there were no further developments. The video announced that the long awaited group will start this year.
The video followed up with the announcement of MNL48 in Manila and BNK48 in Bangkok, and wrapped up stating “The 3 overseas groups will sweep the world,” causing a stir among the 28,000 people in the audience.
Members were also at a loss of words regarding the big expansion. AKB48 Group’s General Manager Yui Yokoyama couldn’t hide her surprise that the 3 groups will launch this year, and Mayu Watanabe was wide-eyed as she claimed that she was startled.