Note: This report contains coarse language.
Two members of the popular Japanese pop group AKB48 and one of their staffers were injured Sunday in what was described as an attack. The violent assault by a lone 24-year old male took place during a fan event at the Iwate Industry Culture and Convention Center in Takizawa, Iwate Prefecture. The alleged attacker, identified by police as 24-year old high school drop-out Satoru Umeta from Towada, assaulted three people with a bladed weapon. He was arrested on the spot for suspicion of attempted murder.
There was confusion among AKB48’s fans after the attack. One of them posted live from the event on WEN48:
“Kawaei(?) ran out in blood. Someone from lane 6 is definitely injured.
Crazy shit is happening here. Everything stops now. Members crying and screaming.
Hirari doing teru teru bozu somewhere far and when they were told to go back, she walked past me w yukarun and I told her something crazy happened. And Hirari stopped “What happened????” Me “A girl came out in blood and everyone’s screaming.” Hirari O____O and runs.
Ambulance is here.”
It is not believed the attack was directed at the pop group. Umeta had told police he had meant to kill someone at the event but wasn’t targeting anyone in particular.
Police said Monday, Umeta was most likely standing in line to the entrance of a tent where fans were expected to meet and greet members of the pop group. The incident probably took place after the attacker entered the tent. Police speculate the weapon, a folding saw, was smuggled into the event in a bag.
Other members of AKB48 and their staffers were in the tent at the time of the attack. According to the pop group’s website, the event started at 1pm. Minami Takahasi, member and leader of AKB48 was reportedly attending.
The two victims of Sunday’s attack were identified by their management office as Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18, members of AKB48’s Team A. Kawaei’s right thumb was cut and fractured as was Iriyama’s right little finger. Nihongogo reports that both performers sustained cuts to their arm as well. They were taken to Iwate Medical University Hospital in Morioka and underwent surgery their management office said. Police have said they also received cuts to their heads. The male staffer suffered cuts to his left hand.
Hiroshi Yuasa, manager of the AKB48 Theater, visited the hospital on Monday.
“The surgery ended successfully and their condition is stable,” Yuasa said. “They should be able to leave the hospital tomorrow.”
Both Kawaei and Iriyama have since been discharged from the hospital.
According to their management firm’s website, the group’s scheduled concert Monday night at AKB48 Theater was cancelled along with other meet and greet events.
AKB48’s official blog states the AKB48 Theater, located in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, is closed until May 31st.
Founded by songwriter / record producer Yasushi Akimoto, AKB48 was inducted into the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest pop group. AKB stands for Akihabara, and the 48 stands for the original number of members. That membership has since grown to roughly 140 and members are divded into several teams. This pop group is similar to another popular Japanese idol group known as Morning Musume.
AKB48 has splinter groups in other countries to further their appeal.
Photo Credit(s): Anna Iriyama.