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MTV Launches Japan Video Awards

TOKYO (AP) — Nickelback, Boyz II Men, Sheryl Crow and other American talent joined such Japanese stars as Rip Slyme and rapper Zeebra on Friday for the first MTV Video Music Awards Japan.

Awards were given out in 15 categories, ranging from dance to hip hop and rap. Winners were selected by MTV's Japanese viewers.

Among the winners was Ayumi Hamazaki, a Japanese singer whose popularity is spreading through Asia. Hamazaki won the top female honors.

"I was really nervous," Hamazaki said. "I'm just happy to be here."

The Backstreet Boys, who were not present at the ceremony in downtown Tokyo, were selected as the best group of the year. Japan's Chemistry won the top pop honors, and the British band Oasis won for best live performance.

Rip Slyme, which opened the award show performing in men's kimonos, won for best hip hop or rap.

The Japan event follows similar annual efforts by the all-music network throughout Asia to promote local stars. Other awards it has produced include the MTV Asia Awards, held in Singapore, the MTV Mandarin Awards in Taiwan and MTV Penghargaan in Indonesia.