To everyone’s surprise, Oba Mina appeared at a recent handshaking event and gave a speech concerning her predicament and suspension, ultimately apologizing to her fans. It was during this speech that Oba Mina also asked that she may resume her idol activities next year, which was met with applause and fan support. Togasaki, the theater manager and key staff member, also approved at this time, announcing that she will return next year.
I think it played out well, and smartly too. It’s a hard position to be in when you’re a huge, reputation-based idol business: If you kick someone out, everybody hears about it and your reputation goes down. As strange as the rules of the Japanese idol and entertainment business are, I think Oba Mina staying after a scandal of her caliber(underage drinking, boyfriend, possibly dating for money) is pretty progressive, even if keeping her in AKB was purely out of the company’s interest. By waiting for the debris to clear and addressing it up front releases the pressure and allows for leeway if you play it right. Both sides win.