Former AKB48 member Shiho Watanabe, 23, has won second place in the Miss Earth Japan contest. The top prize in the pageant was won by 24-year-old Tomoko Maeda. After placing second, Watanabe told the press, “Of course, it’s a little tough to come so close and not scoop the top prize, but then again, back in my AKB48 days, I never really stood out, so I guess it’s nice to be noticed.”
Watanabe says she is still in contact with the rest of the girls, adding, “I can’t wait to tell them about this.”
Watanabe was one of the original lineup, known to fans as the “first grade,” of AKB48 along with Atsuko Maeda, 19, who joined back in 2005. Watanabe “graduated” from the pop project with a final performance in October 2007.