On May 20, 2013 19-year old AKB48 Team A member Nakatsuka Tomomi announced that she would graduate from the group. She made the announcement during a Team A theater performance. Her actual graduation date is currently unknown.
Nakatsuka later revealed her reasoning on her blog: “I’ve been a member of AKB48 for 5 years. I joined when I was only 14 or 15 and I will be 20 this June. I believe that this is a good opportunity to take a step forward. I want to turn 20 and make a new start. It is with that thought in mind that I decided to graduate.“
Nakatsuka Tomomi joined AKB in 2007 through the group’s 2nd Kenkyuusei Audition and debuted with the 5th Generation members, namely HKT48′s Sashihara Rino and Kitahara Rie. She has never ranked in any of the group’s Senbatsu elections in the past and chose not to participate this time with the advent of the candidacy system, likely because she was planning her graduation.
Some fans speculate that this is a kind of trend and worry that many of the group’s older non-senbatsu members who chose not to run in the election will be announcing their graduation soon. You may remember that Team B’s Komori Mika chose not to run in the election and recent announced her graduation on May 9th.
Hopefully this summer won’t be too tumultuous for AKB48 fans but all we can do now is wait and see!