It's official. Yoshizawa Hitomi will be graduating from Morning Musume on May 6th 2007 at the end of "Morning Musume Concert Tour - 2007 Spring ~ Sexy 8 Beat ~ " (モーニング娘。コンサートツアー２００７春～ＳＥＸＹ ８ ビート～) in Saitama Super Arena. Fujimoto Miki will succeed the position of leader, and Takahashi Ai as sub-leader.
I got some news on this earlier on, but kept it aside, labelling it as rumour until I can confirm this information. Even drafted an article on predicting the next 3 possible graduating member in 2007. (The other two was Fujimoto Miki and Takahashi Ai; And if all 3 members graduated, suggesting Niigaki Risa as the upcoming Momusu leader)
Later on, the announcement was made public in Hello! Project Official website.
It's strange, only a while ago, I was discussing on the possible routes that Yossie can take if she ever graduates. I'm not entirely shocked. Perhaps in writing that article, it has prepared my mind well on accepting this news (Now you know what I'm going through while writing that). In fact, I'm excited and happy for Yossie. However, it seems that Tsunku is throwing all my ideas away, by stating that Yossie will not only participating as a solo artiste under the Hello! Project banner, she will be a part of a new group unit. He added that various opportunities will be scheduled for her to take on.
With this graduation, Yoshizawa Hitomi will be the last of the 4th generation member to graduate, and has set the record as the 3rd longest serving Morning Musume leader of 2 years and 1 month, and second longest Morning Musume member with 7 years. (Iida Kaori was the longest serving leader at 3 years and 8 months, and Momusu member of 8 years) [Update: Thanks to Faramir's comments]
Yossie has been loyal to Morning Musume for so long already, and her time has come for her to move on. I am most interested to see what the future holds for our dear Yossie.
I'm intrigued to see if Morning Musume will turn all sukeban under the leadership of Fujimoto Miki. Poor Mikitty, she must be really sad to see her best buddy leaving the family now. Looks like Mikitty will be around for a little while longer, and Takahashi Ai won't be graduating soon either. It's time for a new era. Let's wait and see if Morning Musume will embark for another image reformation again.
Additional side note: You know, after a while it's a surreal feeling reflecting on the fact that Yossie won't be around in Momusu anymore. At this moment, "Mushoku Tomei no Mama de" was playing on the background while I am proof-reading this post for mistakes. Though I mentioned that I was happy for Yossie's graduation, I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness, while listening to the lyrics. Also noticed that this song which was sung by Yossie, Mikitty, Ai-chan, Ogawa Makoto and Konno Asami, other than Mikitty and Ai-chan, all other members will not be around come May 2007. An unintentional goodbye song? A Rainbow 7 Curse?? I will never listen/look at this song the same way I always do anymore...
I do not posses a degree in Japanese Language, but with what I studied before, here are the loosely translated comments made by Tsunku and Yossie. Hope this helps. (The goddamn 'blue screen of death' happened while editing, crashing my PC while i'm updating and I have to redo everything again. Seems like even my PC has gotten all moody over this news... )
To all fans and related parties.
Sincere thanks for all your support all this time.
We wish you our best regards, with the beginning of this new year.
This day, we would like make an announcement with regards to Morning Musume's Yoshizawa Hitomi.
It has been decided that Yoshizawa Hitomi, who joined at April 2000 as 4th generation member, will graduate at the last day of "Morning Musume Concert Tour - 2007 Spring ~ Sexy 8 Beat ~" that will take place from March till May of 2007.
In this 7 years, beginning from Morning Musume's style reformation period, natural funky singing ability, rhythmic dancing that displays athletic ability - with these, she has shown her unique character/personality in Morning Musume.
She has perfectly carried out this role and in her skills.
We think of it as "Graduation with satisfaction". It is with our expectations, that we can hopefully extend this personality after graduating from Morning Musume. And with this personality, we believe a new Hello! Project *wave/wind will begin.
After graduation, (Yoshizawa) will continue under the Hello! Project banner, doing solo works and participating in a new unit - challenging in various chances given.
After Yoshizawa Hitomi's graduation from Morning Musume, Fujimoto Miki will succeed as leader, and Takahashi Ai as sub-leader.
Presently, with consideration for the success of Morning Musume's concert tour this spring, in becoming one with the member's performance, we ask that everyone to give your best support and cheers.
2nd January 2007 - Tsunku
I, Yoshizawa Hitomi, will graduate from Morning Musume on the last day of Morning Musume concert tour this spring, at the Saitama Arena on 6th of May.
After graduation, will be active as a member of Hello! Project.
From now onwards till May, as leader of Morning Musume, will continue to give my best as usual.
Morning Musume - Yoshizawa Hitomi
Comments by Tsunku
２０００年４月に第４期メンバーとして加入した吉澤ひとみが２００７年３月～５月に行われます「モーニング娘。コンサートツアー２００７春～ＳＥＸＹ ８ ビート～」の
２００７年 １月２日 つんく♂
Comments by Yoshizawa Hitomi
私吉澤ひとみは、今年春のモーニング娘｡ コンサートツアー最終日、5月6日のさいたまスーパーアリーナ公演をもってモーニング娘｡ を卒業することになりました。
Additional source from WHG
News clippings from WHG