Yuko Oshima has won a much-heralded popularity contest for all-girl pop group AKB48. Oshima, 23, garnered 108,837 votes in AKB48s fourth “general election” Wednesday. Fans cast ballots to select 64 members, including 16 to sing on the groups 27th single, which will be released in August.
In second place was 18-year-old Mayu Watanabe. Atsuko Maeda, the previous years front-runner, withdrew from the contest as she will be “graduating” from AKB48 this summer.
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)