The Morioka District Court in Iwate Prefecture on Tuesday handed down a 6-year prison term to a man who slashed two members of the megapopular all-girl pop group AKB48 with a 50-cm-long hand-saw during a handshake event with fans in Iwate Prefecture last year.
Prosecutors had requested a 7-year sentence, Iwate Nippo reported.
The defendant, Satoru Umeta, a 24-year-old man, was arrested after he attacked Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 19, as well as a staff member during a handshake event held by the group for its fans at the Iwate Industrial Culture Center in Takizawa, Iwate Prefecture, last May 25.
The presiding judge said Umenta had done something "cruel and very hazardous, which could have taken people's lives."
"The fear the victims had during the event, where they were meeting with fans, and the mental damage were significant," judge Takehiko Okada said.
Umeta's lawyer said his client has shown signs of schizophrenia and was suffering from frustration because of his poor communication skills.
The court heard that Umeta was in the line of about 50 fans when he cut the singers and the staff member. Both girls received cuts on their arms and heads. Umeta was charged with attempted murder.
Handshake events are very popular among AKB48 fans all over Japan. Anyone who buys the group's CD is eligible to attend a handshake event. Officials said fans' bags are never searched.
The group's homepage lists each week where the girls will be. About 40 of the girls take part and shake hands with fans who usually form two lines.
Umeta, who is unemployed, came from Towada in neighboring Aomori Prefecture.© Japan Today/AFP