Japan pop group cancels events after saw attack

Rina KawaeiMail.com

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s hugely popular female pop group AKB48 canceled fan events Monday after a saw-wielding man attacked two members and a staffer, shocking the nation and raising questions over security.

The two group members, Anna Iriyama, 18, and Rina Kawaei, 19, suffered hand and head injuries, and the male staffer who tried to stop the attack Sunday at a fan event in northern Japan had cuts on his hand. All three left the hospital by late Monday.  

The women, wearing hats and covering their hands with white towels, appeared in front of a huge crowd of reporters outside the hospital and thanked fans for their concern. “We’ve caused you worry, but we are returning to Tokyo now,” Kawaei said. “Thank you very much.”

The attack on the group, whose members are dubbed “idols you can meet” because of their fan events, has rattled people in a nation known for public safety. The news topped TV entertainment shows and even the two nationwide newspapers Yomiuri and Mainichi.

On Sunday, the group gave a mini-concert for hundreds of fans in Takizawa city which was followed by a handshaking event, in which fans who buy special CDs can shake hands and chat briefly with their favorite member. As soon as the handshaking event started, a man took a foldable saw from his jacket and went toward the two women, who were standing at the entrance of one of several tents set up inside a gymnasium.

Police arrested Satoru Umeta, a 24-year-old unemployed man, on suspicion of attempted murder. Iwate prefectural police official Takahiro Fujibayashi said Umeta told investigators that he was not an AKB48 fan and just wanted to commit random murder.

Fujibayashi said there were no full security checks of bags and the suspect might have hidden the saw inside a bag he had at the time of his arrest. AKB manager Hiroshi Yuasa told reporters he believed the security checks were appropriate but would review safety measures.

Dozens of AKB48 handshaking events are held in Japan every year. Bouncers — called “peelers” here — are assigned to these events to remove fans who linger, but no major attacks have been previously reported.

“It’s nice they are close to the fans, but we have to remember there is a possibility that people like (the attacker) may sneak in,” popular talk show host Seiji Miyane said on his NTV program. He said handshaking is one of the main appeals of AKB48 but the risk needs to be reduced.

Twitter and other social networking sites were flooded with comments about the incident, many of them raising concerns about security checks. AKB48 members kept quiet about the case. “Such an incident should never have happened. Even if they recover from their physical injuries, their emotional scars will never heal,” former AKB48 member Erena Ono tweeted.

AKB48 management announced Monday it was canceling a concert at its main theater in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, as well as several other events around Japan. Affiliates SKE48 in central Japan and MNB48 in Osaka also canceled or postponed events.

Established in 2005, the group has a rotating cast of more than 90 young women and affiliates across the country and in Indonesia, China and Taiwan. AKB48 and its affiliates have regularly held charity concerts in northern Japan since March 2011 to cheer up fans in the disaster-hit region.

Associated Press writer Ken Moritsugu contributed to this report.


8 thoughts on “Japan pop group cancels events after saw attack

  1. You beat me to it Sunfire. LOL 🙂
    I sent in the NY Post story (exactly the same, but with pix of them leaving the hospital and performance video). By the time the NY Daily News picked it up, the “foldable saw” became a “deadly 20-inch blade.” ROFL Obviously, there Must be a call for Saw Control.
    “Two teens from a famous Japanese girl band were hospitalized after a saw-wielding maniac attacked them at a meet-and-greet event.

    Jobless lunatic Satoru Umeta, 24, allegedly sparked chaos at AKB48’s mini-concert Sunday afternoon in Takizawa, Iwate Prefecture, after whipping out the deadly 20-inch blade.

    Brandishing the weapon inside a booth as he went to speak to Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18, he reportedly broke bones in both of their right hands.

    He also caused cuts and bruises to their heads.” http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/saw-wielding-maniac-puts-japanese-girl-band-teens-hospital-article-1.1805639#ixzz32r6Z9iJJ

  2. Awww, sorry about that Angel! You can have credit for the article, all that matters to me is that the story gets posted. A lot of the articles I see on my e-mail webpage aren’t usually on other news pages, so I send them to Henry. I hope you and everyone here at the trenches had a good Memorial Day! 🙂

    1. I was only teasing you. LOL Just letting you know that we were thinking the same thing. 😉 Like you, I don’t care who gets credit. All that matters is that the story gets posted. 🙂 🙂 🙂
      Thanks, its been a tough one for us. Hope you, and other Trenchers, had a good one. 🙂

      1. I had a decent day except for one thing! I took my mom to a Memorial Day parade as my older brother and my nephew were marching in it. All the American flags used in the parade had the gold fringes around them. This country is not under Martial Law (at least yet), I refuse to recognize the Military flag!

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