Atsuko Maeda, one of the most popular members of the all-female idol group AKB48, said she will leave the group.
“Joining AKB48 was the first big decision in my life,” Maeda, 20, was quoted as saying at a concert at the Saitama Super Arena north of Tokyo on March 25. “Please let me make the second crucial decision here today.”
AKS Co., the group’s management agency, quoted Maeda as saying, "I will be graduating from AKB48.”
“I feel very anxious, but I have made the decision that I should graduate and start walking my way, to pave the way for my juniors,” she said, crying.
She did not provide any details on her future plans, including when exactly she will leave the group, the agency said. She has recently been expanding her activities, playing lead roles in television dramas and films.
Maeda is an original member of AKB48, which was formed in 2005, and has been regarded as the face of the group. She gained the most votes in the group’s popularity contests in 2009 and 2011.
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