With 46 members, you would think that the girls of Japanese idol group Nogizaka46 would fight over the amount of time each gets in the spotlight. Yes, they do fight but it’s not for attention. It’s over food!

Member Manatsu Akimoto, 24, told Singapore media at a group interview recently: “We get bento boxes for lunch on rehearsal days, but the bentos are not all the same. There are usually three types and one is always the best. So, as soon as they bring out the bento boxes, all of us would make a run for them.”

Indeed, despite the notion that such a big group could spell bouts of jealousy and fierce internal competition, the members insist they always see things as a group first. Akimoto says in Japanese via a translator:

“Of course, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. But at the end of the day, it is about working together as a group and always being there for one another. Actually, that’s one great thing about being in such a huge group – you never feel alone.”

The pop group, which debuted in 2011, have always been marketed as the official rival to another popular Japanese mega girl group, AKB48, which has 48 members and debuted in 2005.

Reportedly, Nogizaka46 deliberately formed with two fewer members than AKB48 to prove that they could be better, even with fewer members. Ask the Nogizaka46 members about the rivalry, however, and they are careful with their words.

Akimoto says: “There will always be pressure when we’re being compared with them, but I think we’re quite different as groups. For example, our music styles are different. AKB48’s songs are faster, but we sing ballads. Our image is also different – the length of our skirts is longer.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network