Exile was the big winner at the inaugural Billboard Japan Music Awards, held at the Billboard Live venue in the Roppongi Midtown shopping and business complex in central Tokyo.

Chart-topping 14-member pop act Exile picked up artist of the year 2009 and album of the year 2009, with Billboard magazine publisher Howard Appelbaum on hand to present Exile's leader Hiro with the trophies.

The album of the year award for "Exile Ballad Best" (Rhythm Zone/Avex) was based on the Billboard Japan albums chart, while the artist of the year award was based on votes by fans in Japan.

Radio DJ Mibu Minami was on hand to host the event and act as MC for the TV broadcast, which hit households in Japan on Fuji TV's cable station. The nearly three-hour show was shown in its entirety and rebroadcasts are planned on Fuji TV.

R&B star AI picked up top pop artist 2009 and the Universal Music artist performed two tracks, "Story" and "Music" with Japan-based pianist/musical director Kaleb James. "When you win a Billboard award there's no mistaking you are at the top of your game," said AI, who was raised in L.A.

The Japanese rock band HY, from Okinawa, took the independent artist of the year 2009 and seemed humbled when Appelbaum presented them with the trophy. HY were selected for the award based on fans' vote.

Three special awards were given during the event. Japanese rock band Vamps received the Billboard Japan rising international artist 2009, and BoA and Judith Hill were each given the U.S. Billboard's publisher's award 2009.

Hill, who has found fame following her appearance in Michael Jackson's "This Is It," sang the duet she performed with him in the film, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." She also performed a powerful rendition of the song she wrote as a tribute to Jackson, "I Will Always Be Missing You."