The hot rumor going around lately seemed to have stemmed from a tabloid article stating that the producer of AKB announced impending demotions of eight members who haven’t been pulling their slack. While it was an interesting premise, it wasn’t something to take to heart, as tabloids usually write a whole lot of nonsense; I waited for any official word or clarification on this news.
Sure enough, an official word has come from the theater manager of AKB, and clarified the announcement(thanks to Hana from Nihongogo). The restructuring taking place in AKB at the moment is addressing the issue of not having enough team shows every week at the theater. As most of us know, theater shows have gone from multiple team shows a week, to once a week, and sometimes none at all.
The plan consists of creating a list of 48 “regular members”, members who can appear in shows regularly, and “under members”, members who won’t be able to perform regularly(this includes Kenkyuusei, making the total number to be 72). Another note is that the titles are not permanent or set, so members will be shifted from one status to another as they have more or less outside work to do.
Maybe adding titles such as “regular members” or “under members” are supposed to motivate a lot of the popular senbatsu members to put in extra effort to appear more in the theater. More details are probably needed for me to fully understand what this all will mean or affect AKB, but you can read about it here.