Kumi the ¥20-Billion Queen of J-Pop

Pop singer Koda Kumi (24) was Japan’s best-selling artist again last year. She was in Tokyo yesterday to receive the 21st Nihon Golden Disk Award, given to the artist with the most sales during the year. Koda amassed 2006 sales of 3.5 million albums, 2.41 million singles, 140,000 music videos, and 12 million downloads, giving her a total in the region of ¥20 billion. The singer, whose sex appeal has always been central to her success, said she lost two kilos for yesterday’s presentation. And she was showing lots of skin as usual in a bright emerald green dress. The award makes it two years in a row that Koda has easily eclipsed the sales record of fellow Avex star Hamasaki Ayumi. But she’s not resting on her laurels and today sees the release of a new single, the love ballad “But/Aishou”.

• 2,500 Chinese fans got a chance to see some of Japan’s top young pop stars in action yesterday. Former Morning Musume member Goto Maki (21) and other J-pop stars performed at the “Nicchu Super Live” joint Japanese-Chinese concert in Beijing. The show was held to kick off a year of sports and cultural events that marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and China. Also on stage were singers Hirahara Ayaka (22) and Atari Kousuke (26), boy band w-inds, and local artists Ji Minjia (24) and Han Xue (24). The day before, about 1,000 screaming fans caused a mass panic at the airport as they awaited the arrival of the three members of w-inds. The arrivals area echoed with fans singing the group’s debut song “Forever Memories”, and some tried to chase the group’s car in a taxi after they left the airport. Yesterday’s concert will be broadcast on NHK satellite on April 12.