Hello!Project Official Website has put up the announcement notice along with the statements of both Tsunku and Niigaki Risa herself.
Thank you for always supporting us.
On this day we have an announcement regarding Morning Musume。 ５th generation member “Niigaki Risa”.
Niigaki Risa, on the final performance for the spring tour beginning on 2012/2/18, “Morning Musume。 Concert Tour 2012 Spring ～Ultra Smart～”, will be graduating from Morning Musume。.
As an elementary schooler who loved Morning Musume。 she passed the 5th generation, “Morning Musume。 LOVE Audition ２１”, she was welcomed in her first single released in October of 2001,”Mr.Moonlight～Ai no Big Band～”.
Since then, with constant smiles and cheerfulness, and her never changing “I love Morning Musume。！” title, she’s been a part of them up until now.
As subleader since June of ２００７, she’s supported Takahashi Ai and the group, and after Takahashi’s graduation, she’s continued to support the continuing addition of new members into Morning Musume。 as leader.
For this girl as well, as far back as a year ago, I’ve considered this path at the same time I was considering the timing of Takahashi’s graduation.
Being challenged with songs and ＲＡＰ as well, for several years Niigaki has carried the heart of the groups songs. Our mission was also to be able to pass the torch to Niigaki.
Certainly, there are times when we’ve relied on this girls vitality as well; we entrusted into her leadership the new members who had just joined as well, and so, I’ve searched for the right timing for her graduation.
However, we couldn’t hold back her growth forever and so, even though she herself greatly expressed her sadness over graduating from the Morning Musume。 she loves, with the honor of “Longest enrolled member of Morning Musume。”, and with great significance firming our resolve, we decided that she would graduate on the final day of this year’s Spring tour.
After graduation she hopes to focus on being a singer, being on stage, and acting, including variety work, being able to do a multitude of different activities.
For now, she’ll be making this New Year’s Hello！Project Performancea success, from there until the final day of the Morning Musume。 tour starting after that.
Everyone, until the very end, we wish that you’d please support Niigaki Risa！
And, those of you who are supporting Morning Musume。 as well as all of Hello！Project, please support us as well！
Morning Musume。 Producer
Niigaki Risa’s Statement:
I, Niigaki Risa,
will be graduating from Morning Musume。 and Hello！Project with this years Spring tour.
I had been thinking about graduation myself, for about a year, I had thought about graduating with Takahashi Aichan・・・, but with the new members joining and everything, I postponed it just a little bit.
After my Morning Musume。 graduation, I’ll be studying full force in acting; I feel like I want to challenge myself with experiences in theater and dramas that I couldn’t have experienced while I was doing group activities.
But, with these months I have left in Morning Musume。, I’ll be giving it my very best as leader！
Morning Musume。 Leader
According to fan reports her graduation was originally scheduled to be alongside Ai-chan’s, but due to the new members coming into the group it was postponed. Sayumi will apparently be the Momusu leader (Reina will be sub-leader) with Shimizu Saki being the Hello! Project leader, which is a somewhat unusual way of splitting the power to two people. Gaki is also apparently going to focus on acting when she graduates, so it’s nice to see that she will still continue to be in the entertainment business.
The final date for the concert is currently May 13th, but no acknowledgement of if this date will stand or if more dates will be added at different venues.
Source: Official Hello!Project Site
translation from takamaruyo