Graduation (Hello! Project)
Graduation (卒業 sotsugyō), in Hello! Project terms, is when a group member decides to or is forced to leave her current group. This could be anything from switching to a solo effort, moving to another group within H!P, or retiring outright to concentrate on something else such as marriage or education.
This is most common for the flagship group Morning Musume, which typically consists of 8 to 12 members. As members get older, improve their talent, or simply gain enough selling power, they will usually leave Morning Musume to concentrate on a specific effort, yet remain under the Hello! Project umbrella.
List of graduated Morning Musume members:
- Fukuda Asuka: graduated in April 1999 to focus on her studies.
- Ishiguro Aya: graduated in January 2000 to get married (to Luna Sea member Shinya) and start a family.
- Ichii Sayaka: graduated in May 2000 to focus on her studies.
- Nakazawa Yuko: graduated in April 2001 to continue her solo career.
- Goto Maki: graduated in September 2002 to continue her solo career.
- Yasuda Kei: graduated in May 2003 to pursue other projects within H!P.
- Abe Natsumi: graduated in January 2004 to continue her solo career.
- Tsuji Nozomi: graduated in August 2004 to form W with Kago Ai.
- Kago Ai:: graduated in August 2004 to form W with Tsuji Nozomi.
- Iida Kaori: graduated in January 2005 to continue her solo career.
- Ishikawa Rika: graduated in May 2005 to front v-u-den full-time and pursue other projects within H!P.
- Konno Asami: graduated in July 2006 to focus on her studies and prepare for college entrance exams.
- Ogawa Makoto: graduated in August 2006 to study English abroad.
- Yoshizawa Hitomi: graduated in May 2007 to pursue other projects within H!P.