At 4:55 p.m. today, the company behind many of Japan’s larger idol groups, AKS, released a statement regarding an attack on members of AKB48 and event staff during a handshake event in Iwate Prefecture this afternoon.
Members Rina Kawaei (19) and Anna Iriyama (18), as well as a male member of the venue staff, are said to have been injured, with a 24-year-old male taken into police custody.
UPDATE: The Japan Times reports that the attacker, an unemployed man from Towada, Aomori Prefecture, has been named as 24-year-old Satoru Umeta, who remains in police custody.
Group member Rina Kawei’s right thumb was cut and broken in the incident while Anna Iriyama suffered a cut to her right little finger, which was also broken during the scuffle. Both girls received small cuts to their heads, while a member of the event staff suffered lacerations to his left hand.
The incident took place at one of the group’s many meet-and-greet, or “handshake events,” this time being held at Takizawa City, Iwate Prefecture. According to reports, a 24-year-old man was waiting in the line to meet the girls when he suddenly pulled out a serrated blade and started slashing at the young idols.
Management company AKS released this statement on the AKB48 website, blog, and other sources.
“Today, Takizawa, Iwate: At a handshake meeting in Iwate Sangyo Bunka Centre Apio for the 33rd Single Electric Heart and 35th Single Mae Shika Mukanee, AKB48 members Anna Iriyama and Rina Kawaei along with one member of the organizers’ staff were attacked by a blade-wielding fan. They suffered injuries to their hands.
Currently, Iriyama, Kawaei and the staff member are being treated in hospital.
None are in a life-threatening condition.
We deeply apologize for any concern this may have caused to fans. As soon as Iriyama, Kawaei, and the staff member’s conditions are known in more detail we will report again.”
AKB fans have taken to the various news sources’ comments sections demanding to know the name of the assailant, which is currently being withheld. Police have only said the man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Other fans were also keen to learn the name of the male staff member who was injured in the incident, assuming that he was wounded when trying to help the girls.
Still details are highly sketchy at the moment and we’ll report more as it becomes clear.