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Japanese girl group's fame has Philippines singing same tune

Pop idol band AKB48 hopes to spread concept to Southeast Asia

The official website of MNL48 features a large number of women wishing to join the group.

MANILA -- The popularity of AKB48, a Japanese girl group named after the Akihabara district in Tokyo, has Southeast Asia hoping to capitalize on the concept, with the Philippines the latest country aiming to form its own version of the pop idols.

The Philippines' biggest television network and a Japanese website operator there have started a joint project to create a Philippine-based sister group -- and the search is already attracting strong attention even before selection of the members begins.

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