Two members of the popular Japanese all-girl pop group AKB48 — 18-year-old Anna Iriyama and 19-year-old Rina Kawaei — were taken to hospital for surgery after being attacked by a man wielding a 50-centimetre folding saw on Sunday afternoon during a post-concert meet-and-greet.
ABC News reports the two were meeting fans in the northern city of Takizawa when Satoru Umeta, 24, lunged forward and slashed them, cutting their heads and hands, while a male stuffer sustained a cut to his left hand. Umeta was arrested at the scene under suspicion of attempted murder.
He reportedly told police that he was not targeting anyone in particular, saying, “I wanted to kill where there were lots of people around. I didn’t care who [got hurt].” The attacker’s mother told the media that he did not seem to be a fan of AKB48 and did not own any of their CDs or merchandise.
According to the AFP, police have begun questioning Umeta, who they believe smuggled the saw into the event marquee in a bag. No security checks were in place at the event and the band’s management is considering extra security measures for the group including metal detectors.
Both girls have reportedly undergone successful surgery and are expected to be released from hospital today. All future AKB48 meet-and-greet events have been suspended indefinitely and a Tokyo gig that was scheduled for tonight is among several AKB48 events that have been cancelled.
Established in 2005, AKB48 hold the Guinness record for being the world’s largest pop group, with a rotating cast of more than 90 young women and affiliates across the country and in Indonesia, China and Taiwan. Billed as the “idols you can meet everyday,” the group is known for its accessibility to fans, holding regular meet-and-greets and almost daily concerts at their theatre in Akihabara, Tokyo.
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