Announced at the end of today's first show at Nakano Sunplaza, Takahashi Ai is to graduate from Morning Musume and Hello! Project at Morning Musume's 2011 Autumn concert tour.
In her message to the fans who have gathered at the concert hall, Takahashi stated that she was told by Tsunku last year, at the time when it was decided to have Kamei Eri, JunJun and LinLin graduate, to think about when it would be a good time for herself to leave the group as well. Takahashi held back tears as she told onlooking fans to support the new Morning Musume, as she will do her best to shape the new lineup with the newly added 9th generation members.
Audio of Takahashi Ai's announcement at the Hello! Project winter concert:
Translation: This is the comment regarding Takahashi Ai's graduation from Morning Musume
Thank you for your continual support as always. As announced directly herself on the stage of January 9th's show at Nakano Sunplaza, 5th generation member, Takahashi Ai will be graduating from both Morning Musume and Hello! Project in Morning Musume's concert tour this fall.
When the proposal for Kamei Eri's graduation was made last year, I told Takahashi Ai, "It's about time you should consider the timing of your own graduation and what you want to pursuit afterward" as an advice.
The 5th generation members will have joined Morning Musume for 10 years. Takahashi Ai is the 6th leader and has been in this position for 3 years and 7 months. Takahashi Ai holds the record for being the longest in the group and the longest to hold the leader position. Looking back, she has honestly carried the responsibility for all this time.
(In no disrespect to all former members and leaders of the group...excuse me)
I have talked with her about various things, such as her activities afterward As announced in the new year concert, her graduation will be in Morning Musume's Autumn concert tour, this was the right time to make the announcement.
Since there are still more than half a year to go, the 9th generation members have to familiarize themselves with Morning Musume's music and dances, to become self aware that they are part of the group. Takahashi plans to properly finish her job as leader in the mean time.
Please be looking forward to what will become of Morning Musume.
Takahashi Ai will continue to be active in music, theater, and live events after her graduation. Details will gradually be released.
Also, after Takahashi Ai's graduation, Niigaki Risa will assume the leader position of the group, and become the longest active member of Morning Musume
Translation: It has been decided that, I, Takahashi Ai, during Morning Musume's concert tour this Autumn, will be graduating from Morning Musume and Hello! Project. At the time when Kamei Eri, JunJun and LinLin's graduations were decided, Tsunku-san told me, "It's about time Takahashi should think about your own graduation's timing!" which has gotten me thinking.
I will have been in Morning Musume for 10 years comes this August, So I thought it will be a good time! to graduate in the Autumn Morning Musume concert tour.
As there are still around 9 months left, I will do my best as leader until that time to shape up this new Morning Musume.
I will be affectionate to the newly added 9th generation members as I try to teach them various things, everyone please rest assured.