Published May 26, 2014Japanese pop group AKB48 have been forced to cancel fan events around the country after suffering an attack from a saw-wielding man at a similar meet-and-greet session this past weekend.
The group's official blog confirmed that yesterday's (May 25) attack in Northeastern Japan's Takizawa City left members Anna Iriyama, 19, and Rina Kawaei, 18, as well as a staffer, with head and hand injuries after 24-year-old Satoru Umeta approached them with a foldable saw he had been concealing in his jacket.
Police arrested Umeta over suspicion of attempted murder, while the three victims were taken to hospital. They were released on Monday, facing a crowd of reporters wearing towels across their hands as they thanked fans for their concern.
"We've caused you worry, but we are returning to Tokyo now," Kawaei told reporters [via CBC]. "Thank you very much."
The handshaking event took place after an AKB48 concert, where fans were able to have special CDs autographed by the group. According to Iwate prefectural police official Takahiro Fujibayashi, Umeta was not a fan.
The police official also noted that full security checks were not performed at the event, leading AKB48 manager Hiroshi Yuasa to say that they'll be reviewing security measures for future events. The group stages several meet-and-greets throughout the year.
With regards to the attack, former group member Erena Ono tweeted, "Such an incident should never have happened. Even if they recover from their physical injuries, their emotional scars will never heal."
Formed in 2005, AKB48 had started out with a cast of 48 singers, but the pop group's membership now boasts various performers across several different teams.