On Sunday, the final day of AKB48’s series of three concerts at Saitama Super Arena, member Maeda Atsuko (20) unexpectedly announced that she plans to graduate from the group. Although the date of her graduation has not been announced, it is expected that she will leave after AKB48’s first concert at Tokyo Dome (the date for that concert has also not been announced).
Maeda has been with the group since it formed in 2005, and to many she has been the “face” of the group for a long time. She was voted #1 by fans in AKB48’s “senbatsu” elections in 2009 and 2011, and she ranked 2nd behind Oshima Yuko in 2010.
Also known by the nickname “Acchan,” she has appeared in several television dramas and movies, including “Moshi Koukou Yakyuu no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no Management wo Yondara” (“Moshidora”), “Hanazakari no Kimitachi e ~ Ikemen Paradise,” and “Q10.” In June 2011, she made her solo CD debut with the single “Flower,” reaching #1 on the weekly sales charts.
More details about her graduation and future plans will be announced at a later date.