On January 31, the inaugural Billboard Japan Music Awards were held in Tokyo to honor the country's most popular music and artists of 2009. Among winners were the 14-member pop act Exile, which took home awards for artist and album of the year.
Exile is an all-male pop and dance act that grew to 14 members with the merging of two seven-member groups in 2007. The group has sold more than 17 million records in Japan, and its 2007 album
Exile Love was Japan's highest-selling album of the year in 2008.
The winner of the Album of the Year Award, which went to Exile's Exile Ballad Best, was determined based on the Billboard Japan albums chart. The award for Artist of the Year was based solely on votes by Japanese fans.
Other Billboard Award-winners included Los Angeles-born Japanese female R&B star Ai for top pop artist and Okinawa rock band HY, named independent artist of the year based on fans' votes.