On the 7th June, the results of AKB48 6th General Elections(6th Senbatsu Sousenkyo) were unveiled in Ajinomoto Stadium. 80 members out of the 200+ member mega franchise were selected to represent the group in their next single. Of the 80, the top 16 will be able to sing the title track and take part in various media promotions. Check out the list of winners here.
Whilst 2013 winner Sashihara Rino had her sights on defending her title, it was 3rd generation member Watanabe Mayu(20) who did the impossible. Amassing the highest amount of votes in history(~160k votes), her victory was a happy ending fans have been waiting to see for years. Read on for the Top16’s winning speeches below.
1. Watanabe Mayu – the ace who got crowned late
“I said in my speech 2 years ago, that i wanted to win. I wasn’t able to realise that dream last year, despite all the hard work i put in. For a moment, i decided to give up. But fans gave me warm words, told me to grab my next chance. That strengthened my resolve to become no.1.
I joined AKB when i was 12, today i’m already 20. To get where i am today, i experienced alot. I am happy to have walked my path, believed in my fans, worked hard and not give up. When i joined AKB, there were alot of seniors. New juniors came in, sister groups were formed. Over time, the seniors whom i respect have graduated. I often wonder..what happened to the AKB48 that i knew in the past? As one of the leftover members from the 3rd generation, i have to stay strong and look forth. In the past, i followed the seniors around. Now that I have gotten this position, i have to stop leaning on the seniors. I want to become a member whom the juniors can look up to and follow, someone who doesn’t forget her initial passion, and is full of gratitude towards the fans.
To everyone, thank you!”
When asked what she had to say to Sashihara, Mayuyu teared up at one point and said, “Sasshi has gone through alot. Seeing her lead the HKT48 members, she has worked really hard. I want to say congratulations to everyone, and thanks too.”
Exiting member Oshima Yuko also made an appearance, congratulating Mayuyu on her win. When asked to give some advice, Yuko said “This is not advice, but in many ways, please take care of AKB48 from now on.”
Mayuyu confessed, “Yuko chan had wanted to entrust the AKB48 group to me 2 years ago,but i was unable to live up to expectations. Today, i’m happy i can finally answer to her request.”
2. Sashihara Rino – hopes for a winning streak crushed
“Honestly, i’m very frustrated. Awhile back, i overheard a conversation at this bookshop. An office lady was asking her friend who might win this elections. The friend answered ‘Sashihara’, but the lady said ‘If she won, wouldn’t it be weird?’. That lady also said ‘If Sashihara can win, then i should enter AKB and live a easy life.’. If that lady is watching this now, i want to tell you that AKB is not a easy place. Alot of members worry before coming here. Even though i still don’t know who’s going to become No.1, i will support that member with all my strength. No matter how tough it may be, i will not lose. I will participate in next year’s Sousenkyo, and i will certainly become No.1!”
3. Kashiwagi Yuki – the girl who doesn’t need to aim high
Kashiwagi Yuki is one of the rare members in AKB48 who has gained high recognition amongst fans despite never voicing her desire to rank high. In 2011, she surpassed same generation teammate Watanabe Mayu to take No.3 in the 2011 Senbatsu Sousenkyo, and has since kept a consistent ranking. This year is no different.
“I am very happy to be in Top 3. This Sousenkyo is not just a place to decide the center, it’s also a place where we can fight alongside our fans. I am not good with vying for things. But I can work hard because the fans are here. At first i only wanted to be an idol, but i have now become someone who wants to support the fans through songs and live shows. Last year, i said that AKB has become an important place for me.The handshake sessions are also an important place for me. Today, i also want to show you my gratitude up close. There may be problems, but i don’t want to lose this place where i can interact with you directly. If you guys are here, i’m sure a warm place will be created for us. This year i am in NMB48 and have gotten alot of juniors, i will work hard as AKB48’s 3rd generation and repay you. Please support me!”
4. Matsui Jurina – 17 years old and aiming for No.1
Matsui Jurina has been really ambitious since placing 6th in Sousenkyo last year. Considering her tenure in the group and her ranking, she is ready to battle for the throne. But looking at her disappointed frame, it’d be better if she develops some mental strength before coming back as the competition will get tougher next year.
“Even though i am very thankful, I feel frustrated not having ranked No.1. But i think it’s all my fault, i haven’t worked hard enough. Please let me make a promise with you. I will work harder than ever. Next year, when i turn 18, i will be No.1!”
As a fellow teammate of Matsui Jurina in SKE48, Matsui Rena has always been neck-to-neck with Jurina during Sousenkyo. This year she confessed to being worried about her placement, since her solo career has been impeding group activities. No wonder she was so happy when her ranking was called.
“I’m very happy to see so many of you here today, despite the heavy rain. Thanks for the support. Not only me, but alot of the other members have bet their lives by standing here, choosing a lifestyle different from that of a schoolgirl. I have the confidence to bet my life here, and work actively in the 48group, as well as in Nogizaka46. Just like how u guys have given me this present today, i will work hard to gift you the same present in future. This year, SKE will be doing a nationwide tour. Please wait for us!”
“This year, people have had expectations of me ever since the prelim results, some even guessed that i would win. On the other side, others have said it’s too early for me to win. I am really honored to have gotten this rank, but i’m really frustrated about not being able to refute those who said it’s impossible for me to win. When i entered senbatsu last year, i was able to work more and enjoyed every day. This time i am the only one from NMB48 to be called into senbatsu. I really love NMB48 and want to bring it to greater heights not only in Japan but also overseas.Last year, i said i wanted to be more active in my media work but i am sorry not have delivered the promise. My hopes to lead the group and become number 1 has never changed since i entered the group. I want to become someone worthy of the absolute center by next year. Please support me”
The member nicknamed “Ponkotsu Paruru”(Clumsy Paruru) is infamous for her blunt and less-than-friendly personality. Her army of fans continue to remain devoted by pushing her into Top 7. However, don’t expect her to contend for No.1 anytime soon. She works at her own pace.
“I don’t know what to say honestly. I am bad at this. People say i’m salty but having attained a great rank like this, i feel somehow satisfied instead. I tried to work hard at handshake sessions, but as expected i can’t do it. My fans always try to make me laugh instead. I think my fans are kinder and more forgiving than others. That’s the end! Thank you!”
The last beauty from the 1st generation apparently knows how to twist her fans around her finger. Talk about her graduation has been going on for months, so is it time?
“As usual, my prelim rankings isn’t good, but as usual the fans will always work hard for me towards the end. I am really happy. I don’t have any more regrets in AKB…I, Kojima Haruna, will announce my graduation here…..but i won’t! Sorry for the joke haha! I actually wanted to graduate here, but looking at the stabbing incidents recently, i think i will do what i can and stay on awhile more. I will graduate when everyone can smile from the bottom of their hearts. There is one more reason. When i looked on the internet, i was No.1 on the rankings for member most likely to graduate in the elections. I didn’t want to let that report come true, so i pulled back. I too, want the fans to be surprised when I announce my graduation. So please don’t spread rumors of graduation during big events like this. I don’t know how long i have with AKB, but i will work hard to the end.”
MC continued to asked when she started to consider graduation.
“I started to think about it when Acchan graduated. This time round, when the costume for Labrador Retriever was handed over…i am 26 but when i saw the dog prints, i thought ‘omg it’s about time’…LOL.”
MC asked her to declare her lifelong career as an AKB idol.
“That’s not going to happen! I’m just going to work abit more..”
9. Takahashi Minami – Hard work will definitely be rewarded
“This year i asked to be ranked within Top7. Even though i wasn’t able to reach that goal,i thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. As you know, recently a bad thing happened. At that moment,i thought AKB48 was over. I wasn’t unable to cheer up for days.Because of the fans my heart grew stronger. Even on such a rainy day, you guys are willing to wait for us. Because of you we are able to move on. There are people who asked me why i’m still here. I’m here because i love AKB48. AKB48 is the best! There’s a big challenge infront of us. If everyone is here, i think we can overcome this. Please let me support AKB48 a little while more. Finally, let me say the words which i wasn’t able to say last year. Hard work will definitely be rewarded!”
10. Suda Akari – I’ll shine from any position
Suda Akari has the brightest smile amongst all the members and is so professional she smiles even when the camera is not on her. She is known for being a “fisher”, kind of derogatory for a girl but over the years I can really see the sincerity in her. Still, i’m not used to her over enthusiastic personality.
“I am not good at talking. When i googled my name, people say i’m not cute at all. I can’t imagine saying that to a person who got so many votes. Last year, i got into into Top16 due to the help of everyone. After getting Top16, i was even able to move up front within SKE. I wonder if that was a good thing, and cried everyday. Some have questioned why i am up front. But still, i left an impression on them isn’t it? In future, in order to become the center in your eyes, i’ll work hard to shine from any position.”
She cried at the last part because she thought she’d never rank in senbatsu again.
11. Sakura Miyawaki – My rival is Sashihara
Sakura is probably the only member in HKT48 who has a fanbase so strong that she doesn’t need to rely Sashihara’s help. She hailed Sasshi as her rival, but as the original ace of HKT48, she should probably challenge the beasts of sister groups Jurina and Sayanee instead.
“I’m really shocked to receive this rank. I’m always nervous, but the fans are always here for me. If you guys aren’t here, there won’t be me. Someone asked me who my rival is. I can only think of one. My rival is Sasshi. She is all-rounded. I think that if there’s no one who can surpass Sasshi in HKT, then there won’t be growth. I am still not there, but i will work hard so Sasshi can call me as her rival. I’ll show you that i can surpass Sasshi!”
12. Miyazawa Sae – A formidable presence despite zero TV appearances
“Thank you! This year has been an unforgettable year! I met alot of people…experienced alot of feelings. I’m really thankful for it. Again, i want to be a source of strength for many in AKB48. To be able to stand on this stage, i feel very happy. I want to repay everyone, and I hope to show the juniors my cool back!I am also happy to be featured on the LINE stamps!”
13. Yokoyama Yui
-Skip translation because it’s kinda boring-
14. Ikoma Rina – Shocker of the night
As the former center of rival group Nogizaka46, Ikoma was offered a concurrency with AKB48 in February. She accepted it thinking of creating more opportunities for Nogizaka46. No one thought that she’d go far in these elections, but the Nogizaka fans are obviously hungrier that we thought. Catch the priceless expression on her face when her ranking was announced. Even exiting member Oshima Yuko was amazed by it.
“Do you know me? Oh, that’s great, thank you very much! Um… I-I-I never thought, e-even a tiny bit, that I would enter senbatsu, so when I heard just there “Nogizaka’s…” I didn’t know what to think and I still don’t know what to do. But… ah… um…. um, the reason that I’m here is that my fans supported me in all sorts of places, making and handing out flyers, cycling all the way to their home towns, even to places I don’t know, they did all that hard work for me. Members… well, I’m here on a concurrency from a rival group so this surprised a lot of people and no one really knows how this is going to go. But now I feel glad I went through with it… thank you very much. There’s a lot of people I feel grateful to. But I think there’s also a lot of people in Japan who don’t know who I am. I want to take this opportunity for, well for myself as well but I’m from a group called Nogizaka46 and I want to work hard in order to get more people to know who we are! Thank you very much!”
15. Shibata Aya – Another cinderella story
Shibata Aya is one of the cinderella girls in this year’s senbatsu. She is not favored by management but moved into the limelight last year due to fan support. She placed 17th in last year’s general elections and has since been included in the senbatsu lineup for SKE48’s singles.
“Last year, i experienced alot after placing 17th in the elections.I felt very blissful becoming an idol. But seeing the difference between 16th and 17th positions, i felt frustrated realizing what entering senbatsu is all about. This year, i promised to enter senbatsu and is finally able to have that dream come true together with the help of my fans. I won’t waste the chance from the fans. I will work hard to aim higher. I like the saying ‘If you don’t aim for No.1, you won’t become 2nd or 3rd.’,so i will become everyone’s No.1 idol.”
16. Kawaei Rina – A bounce back from adversity
The baka center had a poor placement in the preliminary results of this year’s sousenkyo despite receiving much push the past year. The recent stabbing incident threw her back into the spotlight as she was one of the 2 injured, together with Iriyama Anna. I don’t know if it helped to get her sympathy votes but the girl definitely hopes it was not the case.
“I’ve worried everyone! I am very healthy now. Honestly, when i was ranked 52 in the prelim results, i had been worrying and crying every day. When i was thinking of what to do, this incident happened. I think God was telling me to stop waiting around and to wake up. I think everyone converted my adversity into a chance for me. In this year, i will not lose no matter what happens. Thank you.”
MC asked if she was afraid during the stabbing incident. Kawaei said, ‘It’s ok! I wasn’t afraid!”
“Actually i was thinking i shouldn’t care about the results anymore. But the fans created this great position for me. Thank you!”
“This year i had done alot and had no regrets, so i was really afraid of the sousenkyo results this year. But now i am no longer afraid!”
“This time, i entered senbatsu because fans had expectations of me and were worried for me. Next year, i hope to enter senbatsu without the help of any adversities!”
And this concludes my translations for their speeches.