(I originally translated this for Melos No Michi, cross-posting here)
This is Maeda Atsuko from Team A of AKB48.
On March 25th, I announced my graduation from AKB48 at Saitama Super Arena.
As expected, I am very clumsy and not good at handling many things at once;
I am very disappointed in myself because of this, and I believe this has made all the members, staff and fans worry about me, as well as given them a lot of trouble. However everyone has been great to me and I feel like I've been a spoilt child taking advantage of everyone's kindness.
I started thinking about graduation quite a while ago, but I didn't tell anyone except Takamina, a few other members and Akimoto-san. These were not exactly realistic conversations, and I was really worried that if I am not in AKB anymore, what would be left of me?
We won the Record of the Year award last year; we have finally made it to the Tokyo Dome; we participated in NHK Kouhaku Utagassen; slowly but surely our dreams are becoming real, and it's time for the next step. I'm sure every member is doing a lot of thinking about the future, and they will need all the chances they can get from AKB. In order for this to happen, I have to work harder.
When I announced my graduation, I was very anxious in front of everyone, like I said, and I'm sure everyone is worried about whether I can be on my own, since until now I have always had members to depend on and always had this place called AKB for me to go back. But I've made it this far and this is what I want to do.
I would be very happy if you could keep cheering for me.
Like I've been saying - at this point I haven't decided any details on my graduation, and I've been discussing the timing with everyone. I would like to withdraw from the upcoming AKB Senbatsu Election, and I am sorry for any inconvenience caused.
I really wanted this message to come from myself, so I was given the chance to present it in this fashion. I don't have a lot of time left as a member of AKB, but I will still be around after graduation. I would be grateful if you would keep supporting me. Moreover, please keep cheering for AKB48 with me.
Maeda Atsuko, out.