Watanabe Mayu (26), a former star member of AKB48 nicknamed Mayuyu by her fans, who became an actress after “graduation” (term used to designate the departure of the AKB48 group), has announced her retirement from the entertainment industry.

The reason for her withdrawal is “that it is difficult for her to continue her entertainment activities because of her health” according to her agency Production Ogi, health problems she has had for several years.

Months of rumours foreshadowed the announcement, as since February Mayu hadn’t given any news and fans were worried.

Following these announcements, Mayu deleted all her social networks and her profile on the agency’s website was removed. In her last tweet posted on June 1st, she did not specify what was the nature of her illness and thanked all her fans and staff for supporting her all these years:

“I have personally decided to leave Production Ogi, which has been a great help to me for many years, and to leave the entertainment industry as of May 31.

Thank you very much to everyone who has supported me so far! The world is still going through a difficult time, but take good care of yourself.”

Mayu Watanabe and AKB48

Mayu Watanabe joined the AKB48 in 2006 at the age of 12 with the third generation of the group. During her years in the group, she won 6 times the place of center for the singles of the group. The peak of her career was in 2014, when she was ranked first in the group’s general popularity elections. She also pursued a career as a solo singer, actress and model in parallel.

It is on December 31, 2017 that she decides to leave the AKB48 after 11 years in the group to concentrate on her various solo activities. Her popularity within the group was such that she is still considered today as one of the Kami 7 (seven most popular members of the group) with Maeda Atsuko, Oshima Yuko, Shinoda Mariko, Itano Tomomi, Takahashi Minami and Kojima Haruna.

Despite its popularity, she has never had a scandal during its entire career. She was noticed because of her resemblance to the ancient Japanese idols with always black and smooth hair, white skin and controlled gestures, even earning the nickname “Cyborg”.

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