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23 May 2024

Japan knife man gets 14 years for pop star attack


A Japanese fan who stabbed a budding pop music star dozens of times in a frenzied attack at a concert was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison on Tuesday.

Tomohiro Iwazaki, 28, was arrested last year after stabbing Mayu Tomita, a young pop star and actress, in the neck and chest.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that Iwazaki be jailed for 14 years and six months, Jiji Press reported.

Prosecutors, who had demanded 17 years, argued the defendant had "a strong will" to murder Tomita in anger after she returned a gift he had sent her, Jiji said.

Female Japanese pop stars, known as "idols," often cultivate a girl-next-door image, appearing at fan events and performing at smaller venues.

They attract large followings among mostly young men, though the devotion of some has turned violent.

In 2014 two teenage members of hugely popular girl group AKB48 were attacked by a man wielding a saw at one of its regular events where they mingle with fans.

Tomita, 21, was attacked as she was waiting to perform at a small concert in suburban Tokyo.

The assault left her unconscious and in critical condition. She later recovered but still suffers paralysis around her mouth, according to the Asahi Shimbun daily and other reports.

Prosecutors accused Iwazaki of being "cruel and extremely dangerous", noting he stabbed Tomita in 34 places on her body, Jiji said.

Before the attack, the singer had reportedly complained to police that Iwazaki was posting obsessive comments about her on Twitter and blogging sites.