On February 15th, AKB48 5th gen member Moeno Nito announced her graduation from the group. Moeno made her theater debut for AKB48 in 2008. On Nito’s blog, Moeno confirmed her graduation.
UPDATE: Moeno Nito has posted on her blog apologizing to her fans for the surprise announcement of her graduation. When she turned 20-years-old, she had made her decision that she wanted to graduate. She joined AKB48 as a 5th generation member and With her position, how she wanted to support AKB48 in a positive way. She announced that she wants to continue with handshaking events and continue through her 5th anniversary which is on April 28th, the 5th anniversary of her debut. But the graduation date is not finalized yet, it could be in May or June but she wants to work and grow with AKB48 as long as she still is a member of the group and cherish these final moments with her fans. She thanks everyone for their support.
AKB48 manager Tomonobu Togasaki also announced on Google+ that a date for her graduation has not been finalized.
As of February 2013, three graduations for AKB48 will be taking place this year, alongside with Moeno, also graduating in 2013 are Tomomi Kasai and Tomomi Itano.
Image source: Tomonobu Togasaki’s Google+
J-Pop artist Ayumi Hamasaki (34) reached another milestone in her music career by joining Yumi Matsutoya and the rock band B’z as the only artists in Japan to achieve 20 albums that reached #1 on the Oricon Album Ranking.
For Hamasaki, it took her 14 years and 10 months to achieve the milestone, B’z reached 20 in 17 years in 10 months.
Also, boy band KAT-TUN has reached their 20th consecutive #1 CD single. They are second place to KinKi Kids which is the #1 artist in Japan to have the most consecutive #1 singles with 32. KinKi Kids currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most consecutive #1 singles and the record is still ongoing.
Many wondered if Minami Minegishi (20) would be involved with radio anymore since her demotion to kenkyuusei but on the February 8th episode of the weekly no3b radio show “No3b no Shukan no no3B” on NBS.
Minami Minegishi began the episode with an apology telling fans “I apologize for a lot of worries and inconvenience that I have caused, I thank you for our support. This time I am starting off from scratch as a kenkyuusei (research student) and going back-to-basic and will work hard to gain your trust little by little”.
After the apology, Minegishi joined her fellow no3b (and AKB48) members Minami Takahashi (21) and Haruna Kojima (24).
no3b which is short for the name “No Sleeves” is a sub-unit of AKB48 which consists of Minami Takahashi, Haruna Kojima and Minami Minegishi. The group was one of the more popular sub-units from AKB48 and took a break for over a year before releasing their ninth CD single titled “Kirigirisu Jin” in January 2013.
You can listen to the radio show here:
On the day of her solo CD single debut, an article from tabloid publication, Shukan Bunshun (the same tabloid who outed Minami Minegishi’s scandal last week), has featured an article involving AKB48 member Yuki Kashiwagi taking part in a group date which involved two J-League athletes and an adult video star.
In an upcoming article from Shukan Bunshun, the tabloid discusses a previous interview in which Yuki Kashiwagi discusses her support of the love ban rule and when she joined AKB48 back in ninth grade, she knew that by committing to AKB48, it would mean the loss of freedom, privacy and no relationships. But she had accepted it as a member of AKB48.
The article then focused on Yuki Kashiwagi (also known as “Yukirin”) and Minami Minegishi, both who were involved a goukon (group blind date or dating party) with J-LEAGUE (soccer) players Takahiro Ogihara (21) and Kenyu Sugimoto (20) of Cerezo Osaka back on January 12th.
The tabloid explains that Kashiwagi arrived after midnight to join the party, where the four were hanging out at a dining bar known as “S” and also joining them were several more friends including adult video actress Kirara Asuka.
Minegishi was said to leave at 3 in the morning but the others including Kashiwagi continued to take part in karaoke until 8 in the morning.
UPDATE: Kashiwagi’s agency has admitted that she was at a get-together but she did not know the party with friends would include men or an AV actress.
While there is no proof that Kashiwagi was doing anything with the guys at the party, unfortunately due to the strict nature of idol rules imposed by management (not just AKB48, but many other idol groups in Japan), there is a “no dating” rule or “Love Ban” rule. But most importantly, to protect their pure image, which means not being out with men.
The tabloids have been relentless in following AKB48 members to see if they would break the “No Love” rule or to see if they would be caught with a guy. And the scandals were featured in “Documentary of AKB48: No Flower Without Rain”.
In November 2012, AKB48 member Yuka Masuda quit the group after a tabloid caught pictures of her staying overnight at the home of her “Wiz ~Oz no Mahoutsukai~ co-star ISSA (main vocalist of the boy-band DA PUMP).
Back in September 2012, Shukan Bunshun printed an article of AKB48 members Amina Sato and Rina Chikano involved in a group date with two young actors. While the two were not suspended for partying with two guys, because they are older members of AKB48, in the latest “Documentary of AKB48: No Flower Without Rain”, the two are shown apologizing to their fellow team members for any trouble they may have caused.
In June 2012, highly-ranked AKB48 member Rino Sashihara was caught in a scandal when her ex-boyfriend released photos of her to the tabloids and revealed that she was in a relationship with him while she was starting out in AKB48. Unfortunately, the way Rino handled the situation was troublesome but while she made an apology on AKB48′s “All Night Nippon” radio show, AKB48 producer/creator Yasushi Akimoto decided not to fire her, but to move her from AKB48 to HKT48.
While some viewed Sashihara’s punishment to move her out of AKB48 as severe, not as severe as what took place in January 2012. Two AKB48 members resigned after fans found photos of the girls with their boyfriends. Photos featuring AKB48 members Rumi Yonezawa and Natsumi Hirajima hanging out with their boyfriends were fired from AKB48 for breaking the “No Love” rule. On February 4, 2012, the two performed for fans for one last time and made their apologies to fans for betraying them but also thanking them for their years of support.
While the Rino Sashihara scandal was a big deal in 2012 and Minami Minegishi scandal making international news in 2013, for Yuki Kashiwagi, her agency was quick to release a statement and fans were quick to show their support for the music artist.
In the last 12 hours, many have come to support Yuki Kashiwagi on her official blog, leaving positive comments for the singer and to also congratulate her on the release of her debut solo single “Shortcake”, while a few have posted video replies on YouTube in anger of the news. While some have left concerned messages for Kashiwagi to not shave her hair (in reference to last week’s news of Minami Minegishi’s self-punishment as remorse for her actions in a scandal).
Many do not believe Kashiwagi would be involved in a scandal or dating, as she was one of the main proponents supporting the AKB48 “love ban” rule. In an interview with Mantan Web recently, Kashiwagi said in the interview that since she joined AKB48 when she was in 9th grade, she gave up relationships, private life and freedom because she devoted herself to AKB48.
Meanwhile, for recently demoted AKB48 member Minami Minegishi, Minegishi performed at the AKB Theater in Akihabara on Feb. 5th. The AKB48 member who made international news for her video apology and cutting off all her hair, wore a wig during her performance.
The theater was packed with the first 250 people who wanted to see Minami Minegishi as Kenkyuusei (research training member). The theater was so packed that a big screen was set up in the lobby where 150 more fans gathered to watch.
According to one report by an audience member, Minegishi received an applause from fans and instead of fans usually screaming encore at the end of a performance, fans chanted “Miichan”, showing that despite the scandal, Minegishi’s popularity is still high among fans.
Atsuko Maeda (21) and rock and roll producer/artist Hotei Tomoyasu (51) too part in public relations event for Sapporo Beer (Hop and Barley Sapporo).
The commercial is the first alcohol featuring the former AKB48 member.
Here are the commercials that will be airing in Japan for the next five days:
Several days after the scandal involving AKB48 member Minami Minegishi (20) and GENERATIONS member Alan Shirahara (20) had broken out, leading to the demotion of Minami Minegishi to Kenkyuusei (research/training student) and resulting in her cutting off all her hair as a sign of remorse for breaking the idol “no dating” rule. But many have been waiting to see if Alan Shirahara would be making a public apology.
On February 4th, Alan Shirahara made a public apology at the beginning of an event at Yokohama Blitz in front of 1,500 people.
Shirahara told to the audience, “I am extremely sorry for causing trouble. I want to work hard as possible through various activities and do my best in the future.”
Shirahara’s sister, model Raburi (Lovely) (23) was a guest on TBS “Sunday Japon” and she revealed that her brother called her on the phone to apologize. With a serious tone, he told her about how he would be appearing in a tabloid and apologized for any problems it would cause for her.
Lovely was born in the Ehime prefecture and her exotic look is because her father is Japanese and her mother is half Filipino and Hispanic. She said that she was unaware of any contact between her brother and AKB48 member Minami Minegishi.
Meanwhile, Minami Minegishi participated in an AKB48 handshaking event as a kenkyuusei at Makuhari Messe. The apology video which received over 4 million views was removed from the official AKB48 YouTube channel. Tomonobu Togasaki, AKB Theater Manager said that he removed the video after many fans requested it to be pulled down.
On January 31st, Minami Minegishi released a video on YouTube as she told her fans, “I don’t believe just doing this means I can be forgiven for what I did, but the first thing I thought was that I don’t want to quit AKB48. If it is possible, I wish from the bottom of my heart to stay in the band. Everything I did is entirely my fault. I am so sorry.”
Over the weekend, various polls were done in Japan in regards to the scandal and for Minegishi’s public apology, 77% of Japanese supported Minegishi’s apology.
But on Tomonobu Togasaki’s Google+ account, the majority of the comments by fans were supportive towards the “no dating rule” for AKB48. While those who were fans of other AKB48 members who were fired because of the rule, voice their disgust over the inconsistency of AKB48 management over the rules and felt that if previous members were fired, shouldn’t Minami Minegishi be fired as well? While fans of Minegishi countered with the fact that Minegishi is one of the top-ranked members of AKB48 unlike those who were previously fired. And also had MC hosting duties on television and one of the most visible members in the media for AKB48.
News of the scandal made international headline worldwide, leading various media around the world to discuss the strict “no date” idol rule in Japan.
Reina Tanaka (23) may be graduating from Morning Musume in May but she’s making sure that her exit from an idol group will lead to new opportunity and in this case, a new band.
On their official website, it was announced that Reina along with Marina Okadon, Marin Miyazawa and Yuki Uozumi will form a 4-member band known as LoVendoЯ (which is pronounced as lavender and inspired by the word love and vendor). Tanaka said she will be working hard on her new band after graduating from Morning Musume.
The band will have their first live tour from March 27 to May 14th and will have their first performance at Music Festa Vol. 0 at Yokohama Blitz on March 2nd.
Find out more about LoVendoЯ by visiting their official website
With AKB48 long time members Tomomi Kasai and Tomomi Itano graduating in 2013. Fans have been wondering when they will be graduating.
For Tomomi Kasai (21), during a radio interview with NBS, Kasai suggested that she will be graduating in June, during the time that AKB48 will be performing at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama.
Tomomi Itano (21) will be graduating at the end of the year. Itano’s graduation was revealed during an announcement by AKB48 for the premiere of their documentary film, “Documentary of AKB48: No Flower Without Rain”.
A core member of AKB48, Itano is planning to focus on her solo career. Her solo debut was with the song “Dear J” back in January 2011.
Tomomi Itano (also known by her nickname “Tomochin”) passed the audition for AKB48 back in October 2005 and has been popular in the senbatsu elections.
On Twitter, fans are shocked about the graduation of Tomomi Itano and fans are worried about the future of AKB48. Especially after yesterday’s demotion of first gen AKB48 member Minami Minegishi.
In Japan, idol groups and artists have to abide by very strict rules. No dating or being caught hanging around with men, as the fans should be the #1 priority.
And because of this, when you are on top, as the group AKB48 are, tabloid magazines are hungry for trying to find members who will break the rule.
But in Japan, people are shocked to find out that first gen. AKB48 member and one of the most visible members of the group, Minami Minegishi (20) was targeted by tabloid, Shukan Bunshun. Yesterday, it was revealed that “Bunshun” had caught Minami spending the night at the home of Alan Shirahara (an actor who started in the Japanese dramas “Sugarless” and “GTO”, dancer for the pop group EXILE and a member of GENERATIONS) on January 17th.
At first, fan response was that it was fake and not true. But then AKB48 manager Tomonobu Togasaki posted the following:
Minami Minegishi then gave a personal message which was posted on YouTube via the official AKBK48 YouTube channel:
Top member Minami Minegishi has now been demoted to Kenkyuusei, which is back to training. In other words, she has to start from the beginning all over again. In the video, Minegishi apologizes to her fans and that her actions was irresponsible as a member of AKB48, especially for the fact that she is a 1st gen member and that she should have been a positive example for the younger members. She explains that shaving her head was her decision and that she did not consult management or any members about it. She doesn’t want to leave AKB48 and she understands if fans do not forgive her because it is her fault.
As Internet response is split on anger and those who are supportive of Minami Minegishi, celebrities have come out to support Minami.
“There are many opinions in the matter, but as a label senior and a friend, I will support Minami”.
“Miichan is a family friend, no matter what happens”.
UPDATE: Minami Minegishi has posted a photo on her google+ blog featuring her with AKB48 members Minami Takahashi, Mariko Shinoda, Tomomi Itano and former member Atsuko Maeda. Minegishi wanted to clarify that she was responsible of the decision to shave her head and it was done as out of remorse. She will work hard as a Kenkyuusei (trainee) and hopes to regain everyone’s trust.