Photo: PAKUTASO/SoraNews24
entertainment

AKB48’s final original member, who had to shave her head, is leaving the group

34 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

With 48 full-status performers plus a roster of “trainee” junior members who are periodically rotated into the main group, AKB48 is essentially the immortal hydra of the idol industry, but soon it’s going to lose its last original member, 27-year-old Minami Minegishi.

Despite the name, AKB48 was initially formed with a core group of 20 idols on Dec 8, 2005. Following the retirement (or “graduation,” as the industry and fans call it when an idol leaves her group) of fellow original member Haruna Kojima in 2017, Minegishi has been the only first-generation AKB48 idol who’s still part of the unit. However, in a 14th anniversary concert held at the AKB48 Theater in Tokyo’s Akihabara district last Sunday, Minegishi addressed the audience shortly before the end of the performance. “Thank you for standing by me until this day,” she told those in attendance, before going on to announce “I, Minami Minegishi, will be graduating from AKB48.”

While it’s customary for Japanese entertainers to always make a point of thanking their fans for their loyalty and support, Minegishi’s idol career has been something of a comeback story. In January of 2013, a tabloid published photos showing that the then 21-year-old Minegishi had spent the night at the apartment of a boy band member. With idols widely prohibited from dating, the incident was treated as a case of Minegishi putting her personal desires ahead of a single-minded dedication to improving her craft for the sake of her AKB48 members and fans. She was demoted to trainee status, and also appeared in a video, posted to AKB48’s official YouTube channel, with her hair shaved down to a buzzcut, a traditional show of contrition in Japanese society. By August of the same year, however, Minegishi was back in the group’s good graces, having been fully reinstated and even designated the captain of one of AKB48’s sub-divisions.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and have decided to graduate while I still love AKB48,” Minegishi explained to the audience after announcing her pending graduation. “I will be starting over and trying my best again, and if you will all watch over me, I’ll be happy,” she added, though she has yet to provide any details as to whether she intends to remain in the music industry, transition to acting/media personality work (Minegishi has appeared in multiple movies and TV programs), or plans to leave show business entirely.

For the time being, though, the fans that Minegishi has accumulated over her 14 years with AKB48 will get to see her continue as an idol for just a little longer, as she’s scheduled to formally leave the group following a special farewell concert at Yokohama Arena on April 2.

Sources: Nikkan Sports, Yahoo! Japan News, Hachima Kiko, Anime News Network/Kim Morrissy

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- “There are many mentally unwell girls in AKB48” claims ex-member of Japan’s top idol singer group

-- AKB48, Japan’s biggest idol singer group, apologizes for selling “Date Tickets”

-- AKB48 and South Korean idol groups perform hits at music awards, turns out to be a disaster

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
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What a bunch of BS having to shave her head, and she did. What kind of "fans" would support a industry like this?

20 ( +20 / -0 )

Well, good for her! She can finally get her life back, get a boyfriend and move on from being a contracted prisoner.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

had to shave her head

Cruel and unusual punishment for only having a boyfriend! They slave entertainment groups need to be policed!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

When that bizzaro buzz cut story surfaced years ago, after the initial disbelief, I sadly posted my first time ever "TiJ".

I've rarely ever used that tag because it's relevancy is questionable, but in this case it was right on the knocker. I cannot for the life of me think of any other major developed democracy where such an act would be carried out - under the same circumstances.

And where was the, as a consequence huge national debate on the twisted entertainment industry ruled by despots?

Geez that was sad when I saw her on tv those years ago.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sometimes, you feel the need to apologize just for breathing.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

“who had to shave her head“

I don’t believe it’s true that she “had” to shave her head. Who forced her, how did they force her? The article should tell us. What I remember is that she did it of her own volition.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Weird

9 ( +9 / -0 )

What I don't get is why none of these graduated idols speak out about their treatment in the industry and expose the more shady side.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

What I don't get is why none of these graduated idols speak out about their treatment in the industry and expose the more shady side.

Because they think it was normal, and they even are, i'm sure, gratefull for the treatment they got...

That's one of the beauty of Japan. Like trying to explain to your japanese co-worker that it is not normal to do 60 hours of overwork and you'll just get a "meh you're not japanese you can't understand"

I'm pretty sure many other democratic countries envy the brainwashing of the people of Japan.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

“who had to shave her head“

I don’t believe it’s true that she “had” to shave her head. Who forced her, how did they force her? The article should tell us. What I remember is that she did it of her own volition.

Sure, perhaps no one forced her to do it but I'd imagine had she not her career would probably be 6 feet under. The Japanese entertainment industry has no problem blacklisting people they deem non-compliant.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I briefly worked in a professional office in Tokyo. One senior admin guy made a mistake or ミス and lo and behold a few days later he came into the office as a 50+ year old man with a shaved head.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

who had to shave her head

Are they implying that other non original members have also shaved their heads?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

She didn't have to shave her head, she chose to as self punishment, and it was totally unnecessary.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But shaving her head did work for her and she got back on the saddle so to speak.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Idol world is sick and produces ugly music. I am not interested into it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan has some quality artists, outside the idols business. Idols isn't about music, only about obsession over someone.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Pretty much "cookie-cutter" music to me. No originality.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What I don't get is why none of these graduated idols speak out about their treatment in the industry and expose the more shady side.

Perhaps partly because the shady side can be really really shady, as in dangerous.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@runner3

The same kind of fans that support an industry that pushes its artists to the very limit and therefore suicide (K-pop).

AKB48 singlehandedly destroyed the image of Japanese music to the outside world. I feel really sorry for the women having to go through that hell. We went from Namie, Hikki, etc, to this.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I can not sleep at night because of this shocking news!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

who had to shave her head

Well, she had to show remorse for being so audacious as to date that boy.

I can not sleep at night because of this shocking news!

Har!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sick industry using sick fans to prey on people. Making a 21 year old shave her head just for having a boyfriend? What us wrong with these people, that is literally the exact same punishment they gave to women who had collaborated with the Germans after the liberation of France.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

RecklessToday  01:59 pm JST

“But shaving her head did work for her and she got back on the saddle so to speak.”

Whether her choice to shave her head ended up benefitting her or not still does not justify an unsupportable headline implying she was forced to shave her head by others.

Invalid CSRF

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

BTW she is on record saying that shaving her head was entirely her own idea, that she did the job herself, and that there was no coercion at all on the part of her management agency. So those who say she had to it was forced to do so are also branding her a liar.

This is just a bit from a longer interview she gave about the incident.

(『婦人公論』2013.5.7.号より)

―坊主頭にすることは、峯岸さんひとりの決断ですか?事務所の判断があったのではないですか?

自分で決めました。強要も、強制もされていません。それだけははっきり言いたいと思います。ユーチューブで謝罪をネット配信することは、AKB48の運営側と決めていました。ただ、その直前に頭を丸めたのは、私が勝手にしたことです。いきなり坊主になったから、マネージャーにも笑われてしまったほどで……。周囲の方々をビックリさせてしまいました。

Invalid CSRF

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Dear S. Korean people,

I understand the pass the 3 months it's been hard with what's been going on in your music industry.

Please don't bring that energy and anger to JPOP and our music industry. The bullying that happend to the KPOP stars was done by Koreans, their ex boyfriends who recorded sexual acts are Korean... All of this has nothing to do with Japan. You need to look in the mirror.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I wonder if the AKB48 management will thank her, and the other members for making them a packet of money?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did the shave the boyfriends head too?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Tawkeeo: idols isn't the same thing as artists. They are two different worlds in Japan. About artists, there are still amazing singers in Japan. My favourite female artist is Aimer. Personally, I consider her "Re:frain" the most beautiful song produced worldwide in the last decade.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Also Milet is good, especially this song

https://youtu.be/ce_9Ze-gf2o

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Alex80, You don't have to prove to me that Japanese music is amazing. I'm a HUGE, I mean HUGE fan of J-music. And I never said that there aren't any amazing artists out there right now - I, for example, love Reol, Daoko, Aimer that you mentioned, Sky-Hi, Kato Miliyah (although she isn't exactly new-new). Japanese music is what I listen to on a daily basis. Almost everything that goes to my ears is... made in Japan.

I consider it far superior to American music in most genres, as far as quality goes. Some of my all time favourite artists that I love and relate to/resonate to are Japanese: Utada Hikaru, DJ Krush, etc.

J-rock, for example, is incredible. Aldious and Unlucky Morpheous, for example, are fantastic.

Or City pop, old and new. Mariya Takeuchi, Momoko Kikuchi, Hitomitoi, Kirinji, etc.

The problem I have isn't with modern J-music, because, by and large, it's amazing and full of quality. It's specifically with these 48 groups, and their fanbase that I have a problem with. Not to mention these 48 groups popularising the high-school look. Now, don't get me wrong - high-school, as an era of someone's life, is obsessed by entertainment creators the world over. Movies, music, and TV shows were/are made around that concept. 48 popularized a more creepy "sexualized" look that I find, well, creepy. And worst of it all? It's these groups that outside/western people associate with "Japanese music", usually, and not artists like Aimer, or Daoko, or Azu, or whatever. I don't mean they're bad artists, these girls, just some of the themes they're pushing (or whoever's managing them) is risky.

To be more specific, I don't have a problem with idol groups at all, in general, Japanese or Korean. Although I'm not too into that kind of music, I find, for example, E-girls very, very enjoyable.

I'm sorry if I offended you or if there was any misunderstanding.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Tawkeeo: Sorry, I misunderstood you! And I agree with you completely!!! I like the same artists who you like. J-music is the only modern music that I like. I dislike modern Western music (I remain a huge fan of Western music from the 60s, 70s and 80s), and kpop isn't my cup of tea (I consider it similar to the whole Japanese idol thing, where the image of the "idol" is way more important than music itself).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

She's 27 years old - graduation is long overdue to leave the nest and strike out on your own

14 years spent in the music business - and she doesn't even know if she has a music career in front of her

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The entire group idle system is disgusting in this country. The people that really only benefit from from all of this are the management companies, other than that it’s a disgrace to the entire music industry

1 ( +1 / -0 )

bass4funkDec. 13 10:33 pm JSTThe entire group idle system is disgusting in this country. The people that really only benefit from from all of this are the management companies, other than that it’s a disgrace to the entire music industry

And don't forget the perverts who patronize this rubbish. It's the same way in America. Here today, gone tomorrow - no talent and new 'idols' to exploit and more garbage to feed the stupid masses of sheep. This whole business is against what serious music is about, it's a sick disgusting exploitative industry geared for geeks and perverts. I know some teenagers who don't fall for this trash. It's an absolute disgrace.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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