Rino Sashihara will no longer be a member of STU48, leaving the group before it has released its debut single.
STU48 has been on a tour titled "STU48 Setouchi 7 Prefecture Tour ~Nice to Meet You, STU48~". The group held its final concert on November 25 in Hiromshima.
It was during STU48's final performance that Sashihara announced her resignation from the group. The idol explained that her schedule could no longer accommodate a concurrent position with STU48, especially as a theater manager for the group.
Sashihara said that she will focus her attention on developing HKT48.
With Sashihara gone, STU48 has lost its most popular and recognizable member. The set back is sure to affect ticket sales and attendance for its current events, and sales of the group's debut single are not expected to be as high without the support of Sashihara's fans.
Since the beginning, STU48 has been plagued with setbacks. The group was supposed to be based at sea, with its permanent theater aboard a cruise ship. Plans for this ship have been scrapped 3 times over the past year, and a 4th iteration is at an unknown stage development.
In addition, STU48 was originally scheduled to release its debut single over the summer of 2017. This was pushed back to November 2017, and pushed back again to January 2018.