SKE48’s Team S, Ono Haruka, to graduate

During SKE48’s concert in Nagoya on Sunday, Team S member Ono Haruka (24) announced that she is graduating from the group. She stated that she had been considering leaving since about 1 or 2 years ago, and she finally decided to make the move. She will officially withdraw from SKE48 at the end of March.

Ono joined SKE48 in 2008 as part of the group’s 1st generation and was later assigned to Team S. In November of last year, she finally became a “senbatsu” member for the group’s 7th single, “Oki Doki.”

Ono stated that she will “walk a separate path from SKE48,” though she did not specify what her future plans are.

AKB48 announces upcoming singles and new dates for upcoming album

AKB48 has just revealed a new release date for its original album “Koko ni Ita Koto.” Originally scheduled for release on April 6 but delayed due to the Tohoku earthquake, it has now been set for June 8, and part of the revenue from the album’s sales will be donated to the rebuilding efforts in the earthquake-affected areas.

The group also revealed some details about its upcoming singles. Their 21st single, currently untitled, will be released on May 25. Like the album, part of the sales will be donated to charity. The single will come in two versions, “Type-A” and “Type-B.” Each version will have a limited-quantity edition with tickets for a handshake event randomly inserted (there will be two designs for the tickets).

All copies of the single will contain a serial-numbered card used for voting in the group’s next “Senbatsu” election, which will determine the participating members for their 22nd single. The vote-counting day and the single’s release date are not yet known.

AKB48’s “senbatsu” election names Yuko Oshima #1

AKB48 (pronounced A-K-B-forty-eight, as in English) is an all-female Japanese theater/idol group produced by Yasushi Akimoto. Unlike other idol groups in Japan, AKB48 is theater-based and have their own theater in Akihabara (a district in Tokyo) where they perform once every weekday, and more than once on both Saturday and Sunday. The name derives from a shortened, Romanized representation of ‘Akihabara’.

The results of this year’s “senbatsu” election for AKB48’s next single were announced on Wednesday. In an unexpected outcome, top member Atsuko Maeda (who was #1 last year) had to settle for second place, as Yuko Oshima edged her out to claim the top spot.

Voting started on May 25 and ended on June 8. All members of AKB48, SKE48, and the kenkyuusei teams were eligible for the election. However, only the top 21 members will be featured on the upcoming single (to be released on August 18), while the next 19 members (#22 – #40) will perform the single’s coupling song as the “under girls.”

Maeda was expected to be #1 again, especially after leading on the first day. After the first week, she was ahead of Oshima by about 1,500 votes. However, Oshima surged in the past week to receive a total of 31,448 votes, while Maeda ended at 30,851 votes.

The top 5 members are:

1. Yuko Oshima (31448)
2. Atsuko Maeda (30851)
3. Mariko Shinoda (23139)
4. Tomomi Itano (20513)
5. Mayu Watanabe (20088)