AKB48 went through yet another grand shuffle on the 26th March 2015, during their Saitama Super Arena concert. Kawaei Rina announced her graduation from the group, citing last year’s slashing incident as the reason. Another member Kitahara Rie has also been transferred to NGT48, the group’s new chain based in Niigata. Many members’ concurrencies have been retracted, including that of Kashiwagi Yuki with NMB48. However, she will be starting a new concurrency with NGT48 alongside Kitahara.
At the end of the concert, Kayano Shinobu(AKB48 Group General Manager) appeared to announce the shuffle plans for this year, which she said has been approved by producer Akimoto Yasushi. Members have 2 days to consult the management and reject their new positions.
Yokoyama Yui(current Team K captain) will be moved to captain Team A. Her position will be replaced by Minegishi Minami(current Team 4 captain). Kizaki Yuria will takeover Kuramochi Asuka as Team B captain. Team 4 will be headed by Takahashi Juri(current Team B member).
Kitahara Rie spoke of her new assignment “It’s a rare thing to be handed such a huge project. At 23 and my 8th year into AKB, i will show you that it’s possible to achieve new things.”
Most girls who were holding concurrencies had it cancelled, including Matsui Rena and Ikoma Rina, who were exchange students of Nogizaka46 and AKB48 respectively. In another surprising move, Lifetime Research Student Matsumura Kaori was also offered the opportunity to become a regular member of SKE48’s Team KII.
At the end of these announcements, Shinobu read out the news of Kawaei’s graduation, shocking fans in the concert hall. Kawei explained tearfully, “I stopped attending handshake events after the incident last year. People around told me i didn’t need to mind, but I did.” She added that her passion is in acting, and without the association to AKB48, she would not be casted at all. Therefore she has decided to study acting from zero.
Kawaei’s graduation date has not been decided.
Key member changes:
Co captain: Nakamura Mariko
Co captain: Shimada Haruka
Co captain: Oshima Ryoka
Co captain: Owada Nana
Concurrency: Kashiwagi Yuki
Promotion: Matsumura Kaori
Concurrencies with AKB48: Watanabe Miyuki(Team B) and Shiroma Miru(Team A)
Concurrency with AKB48: Yabuki Nako(Team B)