Pop idol Rino Sashihara, a popular member of AKB48 affiliate HKT48, has been forced into retirement due to her weary ageing body.

HKT48 managers announced Sashihara’s retirement online informing fans she is now sadly over-the-hill having turned 16 last month.

“She’s way past her prime,” says manager Jidou Damasu.

“I, Rino Sashihara, will graduate from HKT48,” she said during a concert in Tokyo this week.

Idol group managers have encouraged “their girls” to use the word “graduate” (sotsugyou) when being forced to retire to lessen the backlash by members who are induced into thinking it’s an inevitable part of life.

Sashihara says she is looking forward to trying out some new hobbies, including knitting, gardening, and amateur pottery.

HKT48 will replace Sashihara with a first-year junior high school student.