Two AKB48 singers, 1 staff member attacked at handshake event in Iwate
Two members of the megapopular all-girl singing group AKB48 and a male staff member were attacked by a 24-year-old man during a handshake event held by the group for its fans in Takizawa, Iwate Prefecture, on Sunday.
According to police, the incident occurred at around 5 p.m. at the Iwate Industrial Culture Center. NTV reported that the suspect was in the line of fans and that he cut the singers and the staff member with a 50-cm-long hand-saw. Both girls received cuts on their arms and heads.
The two singers are Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18. Police said they and the staff member were taken to hospital and are in a stable condition.
The suspect, identified as Satoru Umeta, was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
Handshake events are very popular among AKB48 fans all over Japan. Anyone who buys the group’s CD is eligible to attend a handshake event. Officials said fans’ bags are never searched.
The group’s homepage lists each week where the girls will be. About 40 of the girls take part and shake hands with fans who usually form two lines.
At Sunday’s event, 50 fans lined up to meet and greet the girls.
Police said Umeta, who is unemployed, came from Towada in neighboring Aomori Prefecture.