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News Navigator: Who are Japan's hugely popular new girl group NiziU?

Members of NiziU are seen in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, in this Nov. 16, 2020 file photo. (Mainichi/Kota Yoshida)

Japanese girl group NiziU has become hugely popular in Japan over the course of 2020, and released their official debut single in December. The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the group and its rise to fame.

    Question: I've been hearing about this idol group NiziU a lot recently. They're quite popular, aren't they?

    Answer: They are. The band's name is pronounced "niju" and it has nine members. The group is the result of a partnership between Sony Music Entertainment Japan and South Korean talent agency JYP Entertainment Corp. to create a Japanese girl group that can perform across the world. Their producer is South Korean singer and music producer J.Y. Park.

    Q: They only debuted this year, right?

    A: Their official debut was actually in December, but the song "Make you happy" has been streaming since the band's lineup was decided in June. The video's profile was raised by the group's unique dance moves, which make it look like they're using a jump rope.

    Q: So their singing and dancing made them popular?

    A: The song is popular, but a show following the eventual members' auditions and selection was streamed online and was also introduced on commercial television. It appears the group gradually garnered more fans as they empathized with the determination shown by the prospective members as they competed for a spot, and the advice Park gave the hopefuls.

    Q: Is it true they're also going to perform at this year's "Kohaku Uta Gassen" (red and white song battle) on New Year's Eve?

    A: They'll be singing "Make you happy." The presence of groups out of South Korea has grown stronger over the years, with the 2011 edition seeing both Kara and Girls' Generation take to the stage, and from 2017 to 2019 Twice were on the lineup card. There could be Japanese groups with a South Korean producer behind them becoming real stars going forward.

    (Japanese original by Hisanori Yashiro, Cultural News Department)

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