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Fans vote for Rino Sashihara as new leader of AKB48

35 Comments

HKT48 singer Rino Sashihara was selected the most popular member of all-girl group AKB48 and its sister groups at the annual AKB48 popularity poll at Fukuoka Yafuoku Dome on Saturday night.

Sashihara, 22, who was transferred to HKT48 after a boyfriend scandal in 2012, got 194,049 votes, Sankei reported. Second was Yuki Kashiwagi with 167,183 votes and third was last year's winner Mayu Watanabe with 165,789 votes. In all, a total of 3,287,736 votes were cast by fans, organizers said.

About 32,000 fans gathered to hear the results of the ballot that decides which member will lead the band for the next year.

Organizers said 272 members of the group were running for the top spot in one of the world's highest grossing acts.

Fans finished voting by Friday for the girl they wanted to lead the collective for the next year, using ballot slips only available with the purchase of their latest single.

AKB48 is part talent show, part pop act -- a venture in which a pool of more than 300 girls and young women at home and overseas compete for a spot in the limelight with each new catchy but formulaic hit.

The popularity of the group -- one of the most successful acts of all time in monetary terms -- is partly built on their accessibility to their legions of fans. They appear at regular events all over the country to shake hands and pose for pictures, as well as on social networking sites.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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What a money making machine. Very little talent but they draw them in.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

A continuing annual PR gimmick by smart agents ... oh well ... ho hum ...

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Ill bet more 18 years olds voted in this than will in actual political elections

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is a complete joke that people actually pay to go to a meaningless election let alone vote. These girls aren't running for president or prime minister. It is a song really!? Everywhere you go in Japan, and every time you watch TV, NAT48 (No Actual Talent) is on there. A complete joke to the music industry, TV, the country, and pathetic on the people who actually support these no-talented girls. Next subject please.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Congratulations to Sasshi for her amazing return to the throne! I'm so proud of her! Also, my oshi Tani Marika ranked for the first time ever! This is going to be a great year for AKB48! As a side note, always great to see it's still business as usual here on Japan Today with the AKB bashing. I was starting to think Japan Today wasn't even going to run this story, being that this happened a few days ago. Anyway, AKB is NOT a complete joke, not by far, considering they've sold consecutively millions every time a single of theirs is released, they've won Japan's top highest honors a Japanese musician can get two years in a row, and put about a billion dollars into Japan's economy over the past several years of their existence. They've been going strong for a decade, and have inspired thousands of young girls in Japan to reach for their dreams of singing and dancing to people all across the globe. I think it takes a lot less talent to get on a forum and criticize these hard working girls than it would be to actually go out and try to achieve even a tiny fraction of what AKB has done. And I don't consider myself pathetic but intelligent enough to recognize their value both to the JPOP industry as a whole and also to each of their fans, who obviously love them enough to support them with 3 million plus votes. Let me ask... when was the last time anyone who criticizes these girls had three million people support them in anything? I salute AKB. YOSH IKUSHO!!!!!

0 ( +11 / -11 )

I would state my opinion, however I won't bother because it'll only get thumbed down by an AKB fan anyway if it isn't a positive glowing review on the group and/or winners. Oh well, on to the next article.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

AKB48 is a rally nice group full of hard working people. Their talent is just like most artists. It's just that most of you are too old to understand that

1 ( +8 / -7 )

'Japan must become a place where women shine' Abe San words, 'I am determined to encourage women to break through the glass ceiling. I will prepare the architecture to make that possible'

The same 'architecture' that empowers parents to sign their daughters at the age of 13 into the clutches of a cynical misogynistic feudal carrousel employment system that by design lines the pockets of producer Yasushi Akimoto at the expense of the members, that on reaching 16 when wishing to form close natural emotional ties with boys are contractually prevented from having a love life, under threat of prejudice and dismissal.

If AKB48 is the definition of ‘womenomics’.....you can keep it .

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I never waste my time bashing AKB because I am not in the top music buying demographic in Japan. And through my experience of the last 8 years here, it's been all the women and children who sing AKB songs when I go to karaoke. If it makes them happy, what's the problem? The world is still spinning.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

@itsonlyrocknroll: Nobody forces the girls to join AKB. And the girls in AKB get paid, same as any other job in Japan, with the exception being that the top members get paid somewhat decently while in AKB. And then of course many of them go on to do other things, like movies, tv doramas, commercials, etc, and get massively rich in the process. And AKB is NOT misogynistic, or if it is, then there sure are a lot of women fans in AKB who like denying their femininity, considering that a third of all fans of AKB are WOMEN. It's generally helpful to know your facts about AKB before you compare them to a "feudal carousel employment system."

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

It is nice to see fans of AKB commenting here. I wonder what attracts the detractors.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

tobolski: It's like a tradition on Japan Today that any time a news article comes out about AKB, at least one to five people will leave completely baseless and derogatory remarks about the girls. Or they will say really incredible, non-factual things, like calling AKB a feudal system for misogyny that Japanese girls are slaves to. I mean, that's just unreal anyone would say something like that, right? I happen to know an actual, real honest to goodness AKB member, and I am friends with her family, and she is very happy with the group, and there is no slavery or things she's made to do ever. It's really a supportive environment for young girls to grow up and become idols in. And not to mention, it's potentially lucrative and most of all, according to my friend, a lot of fun everyday.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Hi djv124, Thank you for replying to my comment, clearly as a member of the AKB fandom it has to be frustrating, disheartening, and unpleasant, to read criticism towards AKB48 for the over-sexualisation of young women, also a perceived sexually-suggestive nature of lyrics and performances.

Now let's be clear with some facts.

My comments are not aimed to upset you, to quantify or judge AKB members abilities as talents or performers. Members characters, femininity, or moral turpitude are not trail either. Gender demographics associated to AKB fandom are regularly used to deflect accusations that adult men are encouraged to exploit young girls. Could there be a grain of truth however distasteful?

My focus is solely on the structure of the artist/idol/member management company within a 'Jimusho' system, it's role and financial structure. The contractual legality in relation to the employment of minors, and parental responsibility. Suffice to say I have some experience in contracting solutions and can demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge in a range of business accounting and tax strategies. djv124 can I ask what you think AKB members salary is?

Not a trick question and asked humbly.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It is nice to see fans of AKB commenting here. I wonder what attracts the detractors.

What attracts the detractors? It's the system. Profit. Music is supposed to mean something more than exploiting a bunch of young gals (who really have no talent at all).

Read itsonlyrocknroll's comment. (See above)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

tobolski: It's like a tradition on Japan Today that any time a news article comes out about AKB, at least one to five people will leave completely baseless and derogatory remarks about the girls. Or they will say really incredible, non-factual things, like calling AKB a feudal system for misogyny that Japanese girls are slaves to. I mean, that's just unreal anyone would say something like that, right? I happen to know an actual, real honest to goodness AKB member, and I am friends with her family, and she is very happy with the group, and there is no slavery or things she's made to do ever. It's really a supportive environment for young girls to grow up and become idols in. And not to mention, it's potentially lucrative and most of all, according to my friend, a lot of fun everyday.

I hear ya brother! I'm sure it's hard work no matter how much the "SYSTEM" takes advantage of them. My question, how is it any different than MTV or anything else similar? Who knows! If a fake wrestler can get elected, why not an ex-AKB48 member. Could be the answer to Japans problems with lack of female leadership. All it would take is an idealistic program to train the girls for professional leadership instead of the AV trap.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I know there are people who hate AKB 48, they say they are talentless, a machine, they can't sing or dance, they are manufactured, this may be there opinion but there are lots of groups out there that are manufactured, but doers it matter? they bring us entertainment and joy for these that DO like XXXXs music, my sons type of music is dreary, monotoned, no key changes, no harmonies, no tempo, two chords on the electric piano, yobs with baseball caps on back to front, but he claims "there are good! " I quite often fall into a coma when listening to this rubbish.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It's not the group members' fault if the management is awful. The choice is to join the group or not. If a member drops out or gets kicked out there's thousands and thousands waiting to take her spot.

Wc626: What attracts the detractors? It's the system. Profit. Music is supposed to mean something more than exploiting a bunch of young gals (who really have no talent at all).

"Mean something more than?" When did that ever happen? Spontaneous drum sessions on the beach? Isn't AKB48 a commercial outfit?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Recognizing and identifying vulnerabilities within young people during the transition to adulthood, the vital developmental stage between adolescence and the first steps to employment need the guidance and security that can only be provided through the professionalism of an educational establishment.

Rina Sashihara 'demotion' coupled with Minami Minegishi appalling public humiliation, both at odds with a system that contractually forbids any kind of romantic relationship, harbors deeply damaging and flawed employment practices perpetrated against young girls and boys, all sending out a shockingly negative message to youth culture, their personal esteem and social inclusion.

djv124, I sincerely apologize if you find this upsetting, I certainly don't advocate AKB48 or the Idol genre be the subject of a ban. Holding any young person to a contract signed by parents when a 13 year old is criminal and inhuman, as a women in my late 20's it abhorrent and contemptible.

The inference of 'hate' is a misnomer misplaced at what is essentially a 'brand' the very byword in the application of successful advertising and marketing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

itsonlyrocknroll: I welcome discussion that's intelligent and based on facts, not presumptions. Your apology isn't necessary, as it's all interesting points you bring up. The problem I have is that any detractors of AKB bring up two points always, and both arguments are exhausting. First, that AKB is exploitative. I don't think people really understand the word "exploitation," as it applies to a group like AKB. There is nothing exploitative at all about people making consensual choices and getting paid for those choices, even if they are 13. Those contracts aren't written in blood, and if a girl doesn't like how she's being treated, she's under no obligation whatsoever to stay in AKB. People often forget this very important point. Also, in terms of salary or payments, I would prefer not to disclose what my friend who is in AKB makes, but lets just say she could afford a few cars and buy a house and she wouldn't even blink an eye. That's not the norm though, as the younger girls and non-senbatsu members don't make much, pretty much minimum wage I believe, or perhaps slightly higher. But where they all make their money is by marketing royalties, for appearing in magazines and such. But again, only the senbatsu tend to get those kind of offers. The second point people always bring up is the whole loveban rule, and how Miichan shaved her head because she was exposed for breaking the loveban rule. Or Sasshi's fall from grace after she was caught as well. Here's the thing... the girls sign a contract to not have relationships because it would destroy the marketing premise behind AKB.Think about it, no guy or girl who buys thousands of dollars of merch to support his/her oshimen wants to see his/her oshimen with somebody else. I know it may seem silly, but it's all part of the fantasy world of idols. Many other idol groups do the same exact thing. And honestly, it's a good thing to have in place, as it keeps the girls focused on developing their talents and being committed to AKB as a group. There are MANY instances where you can hear the girls supporting this love ban rule, both younger and older members, and many are simply too busy with being an idol that dating people isn't really that big of a deal like people make it out to be. They have no time to date, or at least my friend in AKB has demonstrated to me in her own pursuit of idol glory. I think people need to understand one basic thing about AKB: They are about fun, but they are about money too. Nobody is naive to this fact in AKB, and they must all be okay with it because it sure beats living a boring, lonely life of doing absolutely nothing in your teenage years and early adult womanhood where the only thing you have to do on a Sunday night is get on Japan Today and criticize girls and an organization you don't even know anything really about.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

AKB48 and most idol groups are musically not to my taste but I have no animosity toward the members. If I don't like a group's music, I don't listen to it and I see no reason for a personal dislike of the members. What I've seen of them they seem like nice, energetic girls who appear to be having fun. What I don't like is the corporate mandated life style they must live. Yeah, I know, they agreed to it but I imagine at their young age they would sign anything to be in show business. What gripes me is that they can sing about walking with a boy, holding hands, kissing, falling in love but if any member was caught doing those things in real life (like a normal teenager) they would get their butts kicked out of the group. The employers too often treat their employees as objects instead of as human beings.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I accidentally ran across the voting ceremony as I was flipping through the channels. If there's anything I hate, it's fake tears.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

sensei258: we wotas hate the fake tears too. JohnJeon: I think the corporate culture definitely could be better with AKB, but you could say that about ANY corporate culture in any kind of entertainment industry. And again, these girls have no problems with the love ban stuff and singing about holding hands and walking with boys and doing stuff with them, because they are still girls with hormones, you know? It's a fantasy for them at this point, but eventually they all understand they will be able to do those things for real post-graduation of the group. It gives them something to look forward to. It's no different than a girl who enters medical school for 8 years of her life and decides to focus on medicine and not date but STILL sings her favorite songs about dating and boys while studying or taking study breaks. See my point? Of course, we are all naive to think that many of the girls don't date or have boyfriends. Many of them surely do, but they do their best to keep it very private and not in the spotlight, as they understand the harm it would do to AKB as a group, and also to their own personal image for their fans.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Sashihara, 22, who was transferred to HKT48 after a boyfriend scandal in 2012.

Whatever happened to that other girl who was spotted coming out of one of the Johnny's members apartments and was demoted and cut her hair. I see her in the background when I see them on TV but not sure if she is ranked high.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@djv124 Loveban, that's so inhuman and make the Japanese birth rate decline even more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Finance minister Taro Aso’s once 'gaffed' AKB48 as - quote - “Individually, the members of AKB are not first-class, but when they get together, they’re the strongest"....... Yasushi Akimoto (2011 WSJ) ....“AKB48 are unfinished, in other words, they’re still not very good at singing or dancing, AKB48 are unpolished. Fans can watch them progress"....

And yet on request I could produce consolidated P/L statement for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015 that AKB48 sold upwards of 300 million CD sales alone. And pales into insignificance when factoring in add ins' from equity in earnings of affiliates and, feature-various extras, tickets to hand-shaking events, performances, autographs, and photo sessions, cash flow from operating, investments, and media marketing and advertising activities.

On breakdown the salary bill per member is minuscule in comparison. Akimoto member 'Dumb-downs' view idols singularly as singers and actresses in training, monetizing growth potential, a business model providing a low-cost stage performances variance. Akimoto realised a core value is to create the story of their growth, force feeding passion amongst fandom so they continue to consume content. Then market member destruction innovation strategy.....

djv124 the girls are being played like harps, from Sasshi at the top, could you off the top of your head tell me anything about 18 years old Motomura Aoi ranked 80th, because one of life most brutal lessons is looking upward at success from the bottom.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rino gives me the horn.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is odd that the detractors have such a passion. You would think they would just ignore them entirely instead they are moths to a flame. Interesting and odd.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

It is odd that the detractors have such a passion. You would think they would just ignore them entirely

But then they couldn't feel powerful for expressing superiority on the internet.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I enjoy the idea that through hard work a young person who wants to get into show business can make a name for himself or herself. I had dreams like that myself once and I'd never begrudge an aspiring child star for reaching for his or her dreams. That said, I'm picky about whom I follow because I do have an issue with people who take advantage of others.

I avoid AKB because I feel like few of the girls who are members of the group really benefit from the arrangement. The girls are managed by separate talent agencies so when you separate out AKB management's fees and their talent agency's fees for each appearance, each member's cut is very low. Even the talent agencies apparently don't make much. Can AKB management afford to pay everyone in proportion to the work they put in? If they can, they should, and if they can't, they should alter the way they're doing business or go out of business. Will this happen? Of course not - it's just what I believe is right.

That said, I'm sure all of the members are working hard, and again, I certainly don't begrudge them their dreams! I hope they feel that their time and effort is worth the return they're getting, and I hope they're all continuing to work hard on their studies and outside interests. Given the increasing numbers of girls involved in these groups each year, it must feel very rewarding to earn a spot in a single.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is odd that the detractors have such a passion. You would think they would just ignore them entirely

C'mon. It's all fun n' games. Some constantly bash others in other forums. Lots of posters here like to 'dish it out', but can't take it when it returns 180.

AKB don't write their lyrics, compose their music, choose what they want to wear on stage. That's all decided by corporate "Oerai-sans".

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I wonder what attracts the detractors.* the weak minded fools that fall into the whole mind game that is AKB48, nothing more fun than seeing which gullable newbies fall into the trap LOL
1 ( +2 / -1 )

kiyoshiMukai: "Their talent is just like most artists."

No, it's just like most 'tarento' -- a complete lack thereof. Big difference. And newsflash, but when "most of you guys don't understand" it means that they do not appeal or sell well to 'most people', which means they're not really successful. There's a reason why these girls are not world famous -- "tarento" doesn't go beyond the borders. The only requirement for these girls is to be 'kawaii'. Show me a group that can play instruments, that right their own music, and that can actually sing, and I'll give them the respect they deserve. Until then, don't just feel they are entitled to it because it's little girls in lingerie dancing in a nation where sex crimes make the pages every day.

As for this election, what a joke! I realize the old men in government aren't cute by any means, personality-wise or appearance, but THOSE elections are actually quite serious and affect people's lives!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When you put a large number of young girls together in a singing group they will sound passable unless you listen closely. When you put them in school girls uniforms with short skirts, fewer people will listen closely. When you add ruffled panties and hooker socks or boots, no one will listen closely.

Item #1. Check Item #2. Check Item #3 Check

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Without a doubt the whole thing is vapid and a salute to kiddie-porn. However, its not the middle-aged male Japanese fans that make me cringe (after all, we have come to expect that), but the foreign guys who are way too into AKB. Absolutely horrific..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

AKB48 is a rally nice group full of hard working people. Their talent is just like most artists. It's just that most of you are too old to understand that

Really Mukai chan? Just how old are you?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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