AKB cut!: Nightmare attack by man with saw; Handshake event stained with blood
Around 4:55 PM on the 25th, three people including Rina Kawaei (19) and Anna Iriyama (18) were attacked by a man with a saw at the AKB48 handshake event held in Takizawa city, Iwate prefecture. Their lives are not in danger. Iwate prefectural police arrested the suspect, the unemployed Umeda Satoru (24) of Towada city, Aomori prefecture, at the scene on charges of attempted murder. The suspect is said to have admitted "I did it." This is the worst case to hit AKB since their beginnings in December 2005.
The handshake event meant to be a place of warm exchange between members and fans was stained with cold blood.
At about 5:00 PM on this day, 110 received a call that "A man holding a blade [was] attacking" at the Iwate industrial culture center "Apio" in Takizawa City, Iwate prefecture. According to Iwate prefectural police and others, Kawaei, Iriyama, and a male staff member were transported to the hospital and moved to an advanced life-saving first aid center.
A member of AKB's managing company who rushed to the hospital told reporters that Kawaei underwent surgery for a fracture of her right thumb and lacerations, and Iriyama a fracture of her right little finger and lacerations, including to her head.
The prefectural police are stating that Kawai and Iriyama sustained cuts to their heads and right hands, and the male staff member cuts to his left hand.
The suspect Umeda when asked about the attempted murder charge, admitted "That's right. THere's no mistake." The saw used was about 50 centimeters long, and is said to be a "wire saw." According to persons involved, neither Kawaei nor Iriyama are acquainted with Umeda.
Umeda had a ticket to the event and stood in line, attacking Kawaei and Iriyama with the saw. The center burst into confusion and staff restrained Umeda. The event was then cancelled. Fans queueing in other lanes stated that "You could hear the screams all the way here."
The day's handshake event started at 1:00 PM. 47 members participated, chief among them Mayu Watanabe (20), Yuki Kashiwagi (22), Haruna Kojima (26) and Minami Takahashi (23). At the sixth lane, from the entrance members Kawaei, Iriyama, Ryoka Ooshima (15), Asuka Kuramochi (24), Aki Takejo (22) stood in that order. Staff checked before the event to make sure fans did not carry anything in their hands, but did not search bags. There is information that Umeda was not carrying any bags.
Kawaei is a popular member known for her "dumb" persona. Last year, her line "It has to be a lie," said on a variety television program when she came in last place during a general knowledge exam, because a popular phrase within the group and its fans. Iriyama is a prodigy who came in first place on the same program. Looks-wise, they are leaders in the group, and appear on television programs and in graveure magazines.
Until now, there have been reports of trouble between fans at these handshake events, but this is the first time members have been assaulted. It seems that this incident will have a huge effect not just on the management of these handshake events, one of the group's attractions, but on the group's future activities.