Last original AKB48 singer quits idol group

AKB48 singer Minami Minegishi.
AKB48 singer Minami Minegishi.PHOTO: MINEGISHI_31CHAN / INSTAGRAM

TOKYO • In 2013, AKB48 singer Minami Minegishi (above) 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 SoraNews24 portal.

On Sunday, 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 experience appearing in movies and television shows.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2019, with the headline 'Last original AKB48 singer quits idol group'. Subscribe