Male staffer also injured in attack during a fan meet in Takizawa City.
Two members of the hugely popular idol group AKB48 have been discharged from hospital yesterday after they were targeted by a man wielding a 50-centimeter saw during the group’s event in Iwate Prefecture, Japan on Sunday afternoon.
Rina Kawaei and Anna Iriyama, aged 19 and 18 respectively, were treated for fractured fingers and head lacerations, while a male staffer who defended the girls from the attacker also sustained hand wounds.
The incident happened during the meet-and-greet portion of the event held at the Iwate Industry Culture and Convention Center in Takizawa City where almost 800 fans were lined up to shake hands with the members of AKB48.
Witnesses then saw 24-year-old Satoru Umeta attack the members with a folding saw. The suspect later admitted to charges of attempted murder.
“When I heard someone screaming, I thought at first that they were overwhelmed with joy,” a company employee recalls. “But then I heard a woman shouting ‘No, stop!’ and that’s when I realized something must have happened.”
AKB48’s management has since cancelled future events by the group, including those that will be held in their small yet iconic theater in Akihabara, Tokyo.
The incident raised concerns over the security of events for similar idol groups that lets its fans get as close to its members as possible. Although there were bouncers assigned at the fan meet who would remove fans who linger or would cause trouble, attendees say their belongings were not inspected when they entered the venue.