AKB48 singer, who shaved head in 2013 to show remorse over romance, quits Japan idol group

Minami Minegishi is the last of the original members to leave AKB48.
Minami Minegishi is the last of the original members to leave AKB48.PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE/THE YOUNG TURKS, MINEGISHI_31CHAN/INSTAGRAM

In 2013, AKB48 singer Minami Minegishi had to shave her head to appease fans after photographs of her leaving the apartment of her boyfriend, a dancer in a boy band, surfaced.

While she has long been forgiven and reinstated as a core member of the Japanese idol group, she has now decided to quit.

The 27-year-old is the last of the original members to leave AKB48.

Formed in 2005, the group has core groups and sub-teams, reported the SoraNews24 portal.

On Sunday (Dec 8), Minegishi stunned fans at a 14th anniversary show in Tokyo when she said: "Thank you for standing by me until this day."

She then surprised fans by announcing that she is "graduating" from the group.

"I will be starting over again, and if you will all watch over me, I'll be grateful," she added.

There is no word yet of what she will do next, but options include tapping her previous experiences appearing in movies and TV shows,

In the 2013 incident, she was downgraded to trainee status.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PBCanfS11g

She appeared in a video with a shaven head to signal her remorse over what she had done, and pleaded tearfully that she did not want to leave AKB48.

In Japan, idol group members are not permitted to have romantic relationships.

"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," she said in the video.

"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."

The group's management demoted Minegishi, noting that she had caused "a nuisance to the fans".

But its stand was not welcomed by some fans who felt that the punishment meted out, including getting the singer to cut her hair, was too barbaric.