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04/03/17 Nikkei Business Interview with Akimoto Yasushi

[original source]

A glimpse into the mind of Akimoto Yasushi, a man who continues to be an innovative producer

“I want to see something I’ve never seen before” is his continual response.

While persisting in his role as the center of innovations in the idol industry, Akimoto Yasushi is currently the comprehensive producer and lyricist for the AKB48 Group.
Akimoto Yasushi
Born in 1958, he hails from Tokyo. He has been creating broadcast material since his high school days. He has worked on various programs, including “The Best Ten”. In 1983, he became known as the lyricist of Misora Hibari’s song “Kawa no nagare no you ni”, and since then has created hit after hit. Currently, he is the comprehensive producer of the AKB48 national idol group, as well as Nogizaka46 and Keyakizaka46.


—-In this special edition, we are discussing the definition of “idol”. Akimoto-san, what would your definition of “idol” be? Continue reading


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Nikkan Sports Article 9.15.16 – Shimazaki Haruka Potentially Graduating?

AKB48’s Salty Member Shimazaki Haruka on the Road to Graduation – Will Her New Center Position Be Her Final? [source]

We’ve learned today, Sept. 15th, that Shimazaki Haruka (22) of AKB48 has expressed her intentions to graduate. Though she is an ace of the group whose position in the General Election has remained high, it seems she has resolved to take the next step. Today, it was announced that the group’s 46th single (set to release 11/16, title undetermined) will be centered by Shimazaki, and that the song will likely be the last one she centers.

Shimazaki participated in today’s AKB48 concert at Yokohama Arena. During the encore, it was revealed that she was chosen to be the center of the next single. Sharing her thoughts, Shimazaki said “I’m really awestruck. According to what I’ve heard about this song, it’s going to be a really energetic song.” Sashihara Rino (23) of HKT48 made everyone laugh by replying, “Even though she herself is so unenergetic?!” Shimazaki then made light of the joke by saying “I’ll do it energetically so it doesn’t become unenergetic!” which invited more laughs. Even though it appeared to be a funny scene, in truth, it seems her heart was full of the resolve to graduate.

According to data collected this summer by Nikkan Sports, some close friends of Shimazaki’s divulged that “she has resolved to graduate from AKB48”. “Paruru”, as Shimazaki has been nicknamed, gained a boost in popularity when she centered last year’s Japan Record Award-nominee single “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai”, but of course the graduation of the current ace would cause huge reverberations.

Actually, the new commercials for Baitoru that started on the 12th of September that Shimazaki stars in may contain some evidence of her thoughts of graduation. When Shimazaki, in the role of a cafe owner, is asked by her junior co-worker (played by HKT48’s Miyawaki Sakura (18)) “Paruru-san, is it true that you’re quitting?”, Shimazaki answers with a refreshing smile, “I’ve had a lot of valuable experiences here, but I finally know what my real dream is. That’s why I won’t call it quitting, but rather graduating. I’ve decided to move on to the next part of my life”. Afterward, the current General Manager of the group, Yokoyama Yui (23), Watanabe Mayu (22) and Sashihara all chime in with “We’re rooting for you!” The contents of this commercial suggest Shimazaki’s current condition and thought process.

The timing of her reception of a solo center position is also laden with significance. The past three years of General Elections have seen her position fluctuate between 7th, 8th and 9th, but her position has only been stable, and it can’t be said that she’s been making rapid gains in popularity. It also can’t be said that AKB48 chooses centers with no rhyme or reason to the decision, so her position as center in the upcoming single could be considered support for her graduation.

It is not known whether Shimazaki has made her intentions clear to Producer Akimoto Yasushi as of yet, but the situation bears the scent of surprise that AKB48 members are so fond of springing upon everyone. We may recall Oshima Yuko’s surprise graduation announcement during the live broadcast of NHK’s Kouhaku Utagassen. Also, Shinoda Mariko and Kojima Haruna’s graduation announcements during two different General Elections. It is quite likely that Shimazaki also already has a plan for her graduation announcement in mind.

Shimazaki has often expressed her dream to be an actress and her roles in dramas and movies have been steadily multiplying. She will also be playing a leading role in TV Asahi’s serial drama “Metropolitan Police Department: Nasi Goreng Division”, which starts in October. The number of her outside activities is certainly increasing. And during this year’s General Election in June, Shimazaki made the declaration that “this year will be my last election”. During her speech after she ranked in, she also confessed “Honestly, I have been considering graduation”.

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Shimazaki Haruka Short Interview – FLASH SPECIAL 05.2014

This short interview with Shimazaki Haruka was printed in the 05.2014 FLASH SPECIAL GW Issue.


“I turned 20. But I didn’t think anything special of it (laugh). I was happy that the members celebrated my birthday. But it was sad to leave my teens. In my mind, I stopped at 18. I still sometimes almost introduce myself as ‘Shimazaki Haruka, age 18’. The other day we had ‘the big shuffle’. It was decided that I would move from Team B to Team A.  Names were called: the captain, Takamina-san (Takahashi Minami), the vice-captain (Nakamura) Mariko, Kojima Haruna-san, Kawaei (Rina), Annin (Iriyama Anna), A was full of senbatsu members. And then as if faintly, my name was called. I imagined I’d be with (Yokoyama) Yui, who’s in the same generation as me, but not this time.


Actually, I love Team A’s songs. “Rinjin wa kizutsukanai” and “Kurumi to Dialogue” are especially good. I want to try performing them at a concert. What I was surprised about was (Kizaki) Yuria coming to AKB48. She acted alongside me in “Majisuka Gakuen 3″, so I was happy. I think this will bring out a new side of Yuria, so I want her to dance with all her strength. Since Oshima Yuko-san is graduating, AKB has to become something new. One member I’m noticing is Owada Nana-chan from the 15th generation. She vaguely gives off the same atmosphere I used to, so I’ve been thinking about her. It’s not just me here, I want every member to go on holding up AKB together.”

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Shimazaki Haruka Interview – Myojo 04.2014 Issue

This is an interview with Shimazaki Haruka (Paruru) about her book reading habits, found in the April 2014 issue of Myojo magazine.

Cover page

“My wish to the book fairy… ‘I wish I was able to read Western books<3'”

AKB48 – Shimazaki Haruka
Paruru, charging her batteries
Vol.2 – Transform into the literature girl of dreams!
What kind of books does Shimazaki Haruka, aka Paruru, usually read? We asked her to tell us about which books she reads in her private time,which books have influenced her, and “things concerning books, etcetera”.

“My book report on ‘The Little Prince’ was praised <3”

Paruru says she loves bookstores, and when she has time she goes to the local city bookstore.

“If the cover of the book is cute, I’ll buy it just based on the jacket! I think it’s more exciting to not know what’s inside beforehand, and I love taking my time reading it when I get home <3”

What genre of book do you buy?

“Of course, I try to get my hands on books people have been talking about. Like one that came out a while ago, “Keritai Senaka [a back I want to kick]” by Wataya Risa-san. I wondered why she started to want to kick guys in the back though…(lol). I look up kanji I can’t read in the dictionary while I’m reading, so I ended up giving up halfway through Murakami Haruki-san’s ‘1 Q84’ and ‘Shikisai wo motanai tazaki tsukuru to, kare no junrei no toshi’.

Do you like manga?

“I haven’t been reading that many lately, but I love ‘Love – Con’. I saw the movie, and I even have the game. I think the hairstyle of the protagonist in ‘Kinkyori Renai’ really resembles mine, so if they adapted it I wonder if I wouldn’t get an offer to play her (laughs).”

For Kodansha’s “Natsuichi” fair last year, Paruru wrote a book report on “The Little Prince”, which was received favorably.

“The fans kept asking ‘Did you really write that yourself?’ (laughs). I’ve always been terrible at writing ever since I was little, but it’s my favorite book, so I wrote it seriously, and overlapped my own experiences with the story.”

“If I became a writer, I’d want to write a self-exposure book!?”

This time, according to our literary girl theme, we’re at a stylish book cafe. Do you normally read outdoors?

“I’m not good at dealing with places where there are a lot of people, so not really… . But, I think I could really relax in a place as calming as this. Also, during the photoshoot [for this] the shop owner’s dog came and played with me, which made me feel really at ease~. I wanted to take him home!”

When you read at home, I hear you said you read “in the bath” (!).

“I soak up to my shoulders, and when I start feeling dizzy I get out of the tub and take a short break. When I have a script to memorize, it’s best for me to review it in the bath. When I do that, I’m in the bath for more than an hour, and my hair and body get all soft and limp, but it’s a really great way to relax and read (laughs).”

This time, we had Paruru act the part of a “book fairy”. The cute costume really suits you!

“The hairstyle was cute~. I like ‘Creamy Mami’, and it was a bit like that, wasn’t it? The English edition of ‘The Little Prince’ we used for the photoshoot was also cute, it made me want it! I don’t have an English to Japanese dictionary right now so I couldn’t read it, but I definitely want to learn to read it! Maybe I’ll stop by a bookstore on the way home.”

If you became an author, what kind of book would you write?

“I’d write a self-exposure book (laughs).”

What would the contents of that be!?


That was Paruru, with an inappropriate smile.

(extra material)

For Shimazaki Haruka-chan’s story, the second location was a photoshoot at a book cafe.
Upon finding out that the shop had a live animal as a mascot, Paru looked scared and went “kyaaaa!” and the staff took turns teasing her, but the laughter died out at the actual location. By the way, there was a cut regarding the ‘book fairy’… actually, there were 2 different styles of fairy shot. In the end, it was decided that the miniskirt looked more “fairy-like”, but the other is of some good use here so I pasted it on for this column.

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