All-female idol group AKB48 will not hold an annual popularity contest this year which has drawn huge crowds over the past 10 years, its management agency AKS said Wednesday.

Having held the so-called General Election since 2009 for fans to pick winners to appear in a new single, the group "has come to a significant stage to open up a new chapter," the agency said in its news release.

The annual event has been popular among devoted fans and is viewed as a money-making opportunity for municipalities that host the event.

AKB48 has several sister groups in locations across Japan in addition to overseas sister units -- Bangkok-based BNK48, Jakarta-based JKT48, Taipei-based TPE48 and Manila-based MNL48.

AKS did not give details about its decision. In January, the company apologized for an official's tepid handling of a case in which a member of AKB48's spin-off group was physically attacked.