AKB48, Avril Lavigne Win Big at Billboard Japan Music Awards

Some of Japan's biggest stars streamed into and performed at the third annual Billboard Japan Music Awards. The event was held at the Billboard Live club in Tokyo Midtown, located in Roppongi, central Tokyo. The key award of Billboard Japan Artist of the Year went to AKB48, the smash-hit, all-girl unit which is made up of 48 members. The award was decided by popular vote.

Sixteen members of AKB48 (the group is made up of "teams" who work together, so not all 48 are on stage simultaneously) attended the show and performed a special medley of their hits including: "Flying Get /Kaze Wa Fuiteiru /Everyday, Kachusya" and "GIVE ME FIVE!"

AKB48 has been tearing up sales charts in Japan and they grabbed four obelisks at this year's Billboard Japan honors, a first for any act at the awards. They also snared the Top Pop Artist, Hot 100 of the Year and Hot 100 Single Sales of the Year.

The show was broadcast on a major Japanese terrestrial station, TV Tokyo, for the first time.

Masato Kitaguchi, Executive director/ COO, Hanshin Contents Link, Billboard's partner in Japan, noted this year's show was a big leap forward. "For the first two incarnations we were only broadcast on satellite TV, but starting this year we have terrestrial coverage. This makes it much easier for the general public to see the show, and gives us much better visibility." The broadcast grabbed a Saturday late afternoon spot, perfect for those getting ready to partake in Tokyo's celebrated nightlife.

VJ legend and host of Billboard.com's "TMI" web series "Downtown" Julie Brown jetted in from L.A. to see the proceedings and upon watching AKB48, and other performances, was effusive. "Like anything that's done in Japan, the show is done very crisp and very well."

In all, five Top Pop Artists were chosen. The other four went to Avril Lavigne, massive Korean boy band Tohoshinki (known as TVXQ in other parts of the world), up-and-coming K-pop girl group T-ara, and Japanese singer JUJU.

CHARTS: Check Out the Japan Hot 100

The artists were eligible for the prize by topping the Billboard Japan Hot 100. Internet voting determined the winners.

Lavigne relayed a video message to accept her award, saying, "I'm so happy that I was chosen for the Top Pop Artist at Billboard Japan Music Awards. Thank you so much guys for listening to my music over here in Japan."

Japanese rapper AK-69 picked up Independent Artist of the Year and performed a medley of two of his songs "Public Enemy/The Red Magic." Brown was particularly impressed with the performance, saying, "He rocked it! And it was so nice to see how humble he was."

US Billboard Publisher's Award went to Saori Yuki, who released the smash album 1969 with the American jazz orchestrated pop band Pink Martini.

Looking forward to next year Kitaguchi mused, "The show is attracting more attention and more people want to attend so I'd like to use a bigger venue. I would also like to explore the concept of an international awards show held in collaboration with the United States and Billboard Korea."