AKB48 (pronounced A.K.B. Forty-eight) is a Japanese idol girl group named after the Akihabara (Akiba for short) area in Tokyo, where the group's theater is located. The group has expanded since then to include over 130 members as of December 2015. aged from their early teens to their mid-20s. AKB48's producer, Yasushi Akimoto, wanted to form a girl group with its own theater (unlike pop groups performing occasional concerts and seen on television) and performing daily so fans could always see them live. This "idols you can meet" concept includes teams which can rotate performances and perform simultaneously at several events and "handshake" events, where fans can meet group members. Akimoto has expanded the AKB48 concept to several sister groups in China, Japan and Indonesia, with upcoming groups announced for the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.
The group is one of the highest-earning musical performers in Japan, with 2013 sales of over $128 million, and has been characterized as a social phenomenon. As of December 2015 the group has sold over 41 million records, including over 36 million singles and over 5 millon albums. As of September 2016, the group has sold over 40 million singles. AKB48 is the highest selling musical act in Japan in terms of singles sold and the highest by a girl group. AKB48's thirty-two latest singles have topped the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart, with a record twenty-seven singles selling over a million copies; their highest selling single, "Sayonara Crawl", sold over 1.95 million in 2013. In 2010 "Beginner" and "Heavy Rotation" placed first and second, respectively, on the list of Japan's best-selling singles for the year. In all consecutive years since then, AKB48's singles have occupied the top four or five spots of the Oricon Yearly Singles Chart.