The prime minister greeted the Japanese idol girl group AKB 48 at Government House on Thursday, where six prominent members of the band also performed briefly for him.
General Prayut Chan-o-cha was seen slowly waving a pink “glow stick” LED light along with other audience members while the AKB 48 members were performing their hit song “Koisuru Fortune Cookie”.
Glow sticks are normally used by the band’s fans at their concerts.
The song’s Thai version, covered by the group’s “sister band” BNK 48, is popular in Thailand.
The six members of the Japanese band who called on Prayut at Government House are Asai Nanami, Chiba Erii, Iwatate Saho, Mogi Shinobu, Nakanishi Chiyori and Sasaki Yukari.
Prayut, who also heads the ruling junta National Council for Peace and Order, shook hands with the Japanese singers and presented them with souvenirs.
The PM said the ties between Thailand and Japan dated back to the Ayutthaya era several centuries ago. He praised Japan and its businesses for helping Thai development.
He also accompanied them for a tour of the compound.
AKB 48, one of the highest-earning musical performers in Japan, will play in Thailand in December.
They were accompanied by Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool when calling on the prime minister on Thursday. The visit was organised by Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the top executive of Toshiba Thailand who previously served as the tourism and sports minister in the Prayut government.
After meeting Prayut, Shinobu told reporters that she was excited about visiting Thailand and being able to meet the prime minister.
Krit Sripoomseth, a showbiz celebrity who accompanied the AKB 48 members, was asked if the Japanese group’s meeting with the junta chief would trigger criticism. Cherprang Areekul, “captain” of the Thai group BNK 48, came under attack by the government’s critics recently for hosting an episode of the administration’s publicity TV programme.
Krit responded that there was no such issue so far and that the people involved had no concern about the matter. “AKB 48 wanted to meet the prime minister,” he said.