AKB48 Shinoda Team A member Nakatsuka Tomomi announced her graduation during the theater show on May 20. In her comment she explained that she will turn 20 soon and now wants to take a "step forward". A graduation date has not been announced yet.
Nakatsuka Tomomi joined AKB48 as a 5th generation member in 2007. She was promoted in January 2009 to Team B and later became a member of Team K and then A. Tomomi ranked #9 in the first Janken Tournament in 2010 and hence became a senbatsu member for [Chance no Junban], her first and only time as senbatsu. Since she never ranked in the sousenkyo before, she did not even apply to participate in the current election.
You can read a translation of her graduation blog post below.
Nakatsuka Tomomi's Graduation Comment
What I want to tell
During today's theater show I announced my graduation. I was nervous... Feeling my heart beating fast I even got more nervous.
Since the start of this year, I was thinking about graduation. AKB became bigger and bigger and, honestly, even though I am a member of the same group I could not follow. I worried: Am I necessary here? Is it ok to continue like this?
But I was able to meet the other members I love, the stage shows were fun and everyone was always supporting me and cheering for me. I relied on this environment, and couldn't really come up with the decision to graduate.
When Nattsumii and Komori announced their graduations I saw a lot of comments saying "Kurisu will be okay, won't she?". I couldn't give an answer to that, I am sorry. I must have made you uneasy. So now I feel relieved somehow.
I was active in AKB for 5 years. At that time (when I joined) I was 14, 15 but this June I'll become 20. I thought this is a good opportunity to move one step forward. "When I become 20 I want to make a new start", with this thoughts in mind I decided to graduate.
I don't have a definite dream yet. But I have a lot of things I want to do. Because I know that this world isn't easy, I will work hard for myself so that I can first do the things I want to do. Also for you too. So that I can make a lot of happy announcements. When you are glad, it makes me glad and happy.
And there is something I wanted to say all the time: What I wrote when I announced my withdrawal from the election, is what I really feel. But I don't have any intentions to criticize Yuko-chan. I really do understand what Yuko-chan said. I just wanted to say that this isn't all. (Note: On Yuko's famous words about how votes are love from the fans, Tomomi commented that the fans' love reaches her even without putting it into votes.) Yuko-chan contacted me immediately. We talked about our feelings and understood each other so please don't worry. She is a beloved senpai I can respect from the bottom of my heart and rely on. Sorry for not finding the right words. I am really sorry that I caused you a lot of worry and trouble at that time.
The countdown has already begun, so I cannot waste a minute or second. Being thankful for every single thing, I'll run through with all my might so that I won't have anything to regret. That's probably what I can do now. So that I can say thank you to as many people as possible.
I'd be happy if you watch over me kindly till the end. Please treat me well.