Graduation (卒業 Sotsugyou) is a term used to refer to when a member of AKB48, Sakamichi Series, SNH48 and their respective national and international sister groups leaves their respective group. The term is not exclusive to these groups, and is used by other idol groups as well.
- 1 Graduation Process
- 2 Return
- 3 Graduated and Graduating Members in 2022
- 4 Trivia
Members usually announce their graduation from the group as a surprise announcement at the end of theater performances. The date of the member's final performance is usually decided by management at a later time.
Other methods of graduation announcement include (but are not limited to):
- Announcement at AKB48-related concerts and events (Examples: Maeda Atsuko, Shinoda Mariko, Kawaei Rina, Takahashi Minami)
- Announcement on television programs (Examples: Oshima Yuko, Itano Tomomi, Miyazawa Sae)
- Announcement through a newspaper (Example: Kuramochi Asuka, Nakamura Mariko, Shiraishi Mai)
- Announcement through radio shows (Example: Matsui Rena, Hashimoto Nanami)
- Announcement through web shows (Example: Matsumura Sayuri)
- Announcement through social networking sites (Examples: Akimoto Sayaka, Yagami Kumi)
- Announcement through a YouTube video (Example: Nozawa Rena)
- Announcement through SHOWROOM broadcast (Example: Tano Yuka)
- Announcement through a music video (Example: Hori Miona)
- Official announcement from management (Example: Sato Natsuki)
- Announcement through a press conference (Example: Shimazaki Haruka)
- Announcement from the official site (Example: Ashley Cloud Garcia, Hirate Yurina)
- Announcement through a blog post (Example: Fukagawa Mai, Nishino Nanase)
Reasons for graduation can vary. Common reasons include:
- Choosing to focus on studies
- Poor health
- Pursuing a career in show-business outside the AKB48 Group
- Personal reasons
2. The Ceremony
The graduation ceremony for a graduating member of AKB48, SNH48, and their respective sister groups, usually consists of a final theater performance. After this performance the member takes down her picture from the portrait wall of the theater. Senbatsu members often get segments of concerts dedicated to their graduation in addition to a theater ceremony. In rare cases, a full concert can be dedicated to and named after the graduating member/s if the member is highly significant to the group.
(See: List of Graduation Concerts)
In some cases, graduated members are still obligated to attend handshake events after their final performance at the theater. This most often occurs when the tickets were sold before the member announced her graduation.
Graduated members can sometimes be invited to perform in commemorative concerts or special theater shows, even after their graduation.
3. Withdrawal (「辞退」・「活動辞退」)
This term can be used for members who chose to leave the group without a graduation ceremony. This most often occurs when a scandal involving the member surfaces, such as in the cases of Yonezawa Rumi, Hirajima Natsumi, Masuda Yuka, Harada Mayu, Tsuji Nozomi, and Yokono Sumire. It can also be used for kenkyuusei scheduled for promotion or debut but leave the group anyway, such as Mitsumune Kaoru, Fujimoto Mitsuki, Maemura Himea, and Nakajima Hikari. However, the term can still be used as a neutral way to announce leaving the group, such as with Uemura Azusa and Hirate Yurina.
4. Dismissal (「解雇」・「契約解除」)
This term is used for members who are forced to leave the group after breaking a group or contract rule.
A graduated member can return to the group she graduated from or to a sister or rival group. However, this is usually limited due to the age limit of auditions. Currently, a total of 16 members returned to AKB48 Group or Sakamichi Series after their graduation:
- Kikuchi Ayaka, originally an AKB48 3rd generation member, returned as an AKB48 7th generation member.
- Muranaka Satomi, originally an AKB48 4th generation member, returned as an AKB48 8th generation member.
- Fujimoto Sara, originally an AKB48 4th generation member, returned as an AKB48 9th generation member.
- Deguchi Aki, originally an AKB48 4th generation member, returned as an SKE48 1st generation member.
- Saeki Mika, originally an AKB48 4th generation member, returned as a Baito AKB member.
- Suzuki Shihori, originally an AKB48 7th generation member, returned as an AKB48 11th generation member.
- Nishikawa Nanami, originally an AKB48 8th generation member, returned as a Nogizaka46 2nd generation member.
- Jo Eriko, originally an NMB48 2nd generation member, returned as an NMB48 4.5th generation member.
- Tojima Hana and Komatani Hitomi, originally AKB48 1st generation members, returned as SDN48 3rd generation members.
- Takano Yui and Miaki Riho, originally NMB48 members, returned as Yoshimotozaka46 1st generation members.
- Wang RuiQi, originally a SHY48 2nd generation member, returned as an SHY48 4th generation member.
- Lin Yu-hsin, originally a AKB48 Taiwan Audition Understudent, returned as a TPE48 1st generation member.
- Kitagawa Yuri, originally an AKB48 3rd Draft generation member, returned as a Nogizaka46 4th generation member.
- Chou Chia-an, originally an AKB48 Taiwan Audition Understudent, returned as an AKB48 Team TP 2nd generation member.
- Han JiaLe, originally an SHY48 1st generation member, returned as an SNH48 Trainee.
- Xu ShiQi, originally an SNH48 7th generation member, returned as an SNH48 Trainee.
- Zuo JingYuan, originally an SNH48 6th generation member and a former GNZ48 Team NIII member, returned as an SNH48 Trainee.
- Mariz Iyog, originally a MNL48 1st generation member, returned as MNL48 Team Unknown member.
Graduated and Graduating Members in 2022
Many members have graduated from the 48 Group since its formation. A full list of members who have graduated can be found here
Below is a list of members who graduated or announced their graduation in 2022 (some cases in 2021) specifically.
Bolded names denote members who have yet to graduate since their announcement.
- The first member to graduate from the AKB48 group is Team A's Usami Yuki who graduated on March 31, 2006.
- In addition, mass graduations have occured in several groups.
- SDN48: Currently the largest mass graduation. All (39) members graduated together on March 31, 2012, following the group's disbandment.
- DEL48: All (22) members graduated on October 9, 2020, following the group's indefinite hiatus.
- JKT48: 30 members left the group from March 11 to 14 2021, following the disbandment of all teams and JKT48 Academy.
- SGO48: All (19) members graduated together on December 22, 2021, following the group's disbandment.
- SHY48: 26 members left the group on January 19, 2019, following the group's disbandment.
- CKG48: 26 members left the group on January 19, 2019, following the group's disbandment.
- The year 2021 had the largest number of graduated and graduating members.
- 68 members from the Japanese AKB48 group.
- 16 members from the Sakamichi Series.
- 90 from the overseas groups.
- 58 from the SNH48 Group.
- A total of 232 members from the combined numbers of AKB48 Group, Sakamichi Series, and SNH48 Group have either announced graduation or graduated.