Niigaki Risa to Graduate from Morning Musume.

On January 2, it was announced that current leader and last remaining 5th generation member Niigaki Risa(23) will gradaute from Morning Musume after their 2012 Spring tour.

She joined the group in 2001 and has the distinction of having the longest tenure of any member.

For Morning Musume this past year has been a year of many changes and drastic re-composition. With 9th and 10th generations bringing in a total of 8 new members, and the graduation of long time member and leader Takahashi Ai, the group now has a lineup consisting of mostly fresh, less-recognizable faces. Which in my opinion makes this a pivotal time in developing and establishing the new members and an opportunity for a change in image and direction.