entertainment

AKB48 attack forces rethink on how handshake events are held

33 Comments

In the wake of the saw attack on two members of AKB48 and one man working with the venue, many readers couldn’t help but think, “It was just a matter of time before something like this happened.”

Handshake and high-five events give fans and idols a daring level of closeness compared to pop stars in other countries. However, for years they have gone on relatively incident-free, which is surprising considering the thousands and thousands of people who participate around the country.

Despite the nagging feeling that something could go very wrong, these promotional events were hugely lucrative in an otherwise stale music industry. But now the company behind AKB48, as well as those handling other idol units who rely heavily on these events, have to find a way to ensure their stars’ safety without losing the sense of intimacy they’ve had with their fan bases.

On May 25, about 5,000 fans flocked to the Iwate Sangyo Bunka Center for an AKB48 handshake meeting. The idols who attended were divided into four separate tents, each with a separate line-up. Participants wait in line to get a few seconds to meet their idol of choice, shake hands, say something witty, and then be guided out the back.

To manage the crowd, 100 security guards were on hand. Inside each handshake tent, two to four guards were standing by to enforce time limits and watch for anything out of the ordinary. However, according to other participants, only palms were checked and bags were not inspected at all before entering the tent.

According to police, the alleged attacker Satoru Umeda had kept the folding saw he used to attack the girls inside his bag for roughly four hours and was never once checked. Since the incident, the AKB48 Theater has been closed until Saturday, and sister groups NMB48, SKE48, and HKT48 have only just begun to resume events.

During the hiatus, the managing company behind AKB48, AKS has been mulling over possible ways to increase security yet still maintain the intimate meet-and-greets that have lifted them to the top tier of Japanese pop-culture.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police have advised that the AKB48 Theater install a metal detector, increase the number of guards, stop the high-fives between performers and the audience after shows, and leave the first row empty to prevent anyone from rushing the stage.

Security experts in the media have largely agreed that controlling a handshake event can be a nightmare on many levels. Of course there’s the mere arm’s length of distance between the young idol and hundreds of random strangers. Also, tickets are simply given out bundled in with CD singles which are sometimes binge-bought and thus distributed even more randomly at conventions or flea markets. This method makes finding the identity of a ticket holder virtually impossible.

With that avenue closed, the popular recommendations have been doing regular bag checks and full-body pat-downs of attendees. Many have also suggested putting an acrylic panel between the idol and guest much like at a gas station or liquor store.

The shape handshake events take from hereon in will largely depend on the fans. In the modern era of Japanese idols, fan access has become a very valuable commodity. It’s quite possible that all of the idol agencies will agree that stricter safety measures are needed and start putting up plastic walls across the board.

As long as the fans aren’t turned off, the business will likely continue in this way, but if the bottom line starts dropping too, much we may start seeing the walls come back down. One the other hand, even if the idol corporations maintain rigorous security successfully there’s always a chance that a hungry up-and-coming unit will go back to the old style and the cycle will just continue again.

Source: Asahi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- AKB48 idols Anna Iriyama, Rina Kawaei released from hospital -- Elitism divides otaku culture as the popularity of Japanese pop idols expands -- Four teenagers mug man to buy special attack uniforms for meeting AKB48

© RocketNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


33 Comments
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Just ban any weird-looking dude over the age of 20 from attending. Problem solved.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Nobody thought before hand to check bags? Really? So in the picture, instead of someone saying 'we should treat this like airport security' or something, someone instead said 'Oh just give her a plastic child's claw. That will keep her safe'. And to that someone actually said 'that's a brilliant idea!'

I swear the logic in this country makes my blood presure shoot up

7 ( +10 / -3 )

One incident, overboard reaction.

3 ( +8 / -6 )

Nobody thought before hand to check bags? Really? So in the picture, instead of someone saying 'we should treat this like airport security' or something, someone instead said 'Oh just give her a plastic child's claw. That will keep her safe'. And to that someone actually said 'that's a brilliant idea!'

I swear the logic in this country makes my blood presure shoot up

And why are you surprised by this???

Having worked in the entertainment industry, this is NOT rocket science, when you schedule events like these and they have them all over the world with even more higher profile celebs or events like the Academy Awards, Tribeca, Cannes, Sundance and so on, the level of security is high, we are in Japan and when you have a large group of cute adolescent girls, you will have a lot of strange twisted guys come out of the woodworks, I see this all the time. Just look at some of the creeps that frequent AKB and other idols concerts. I knew something like this was going to happen, it was a question of not about if, but when. Now they are STILL going about this the wrong way even after this tragic event. Once again, they are setting themselves up for something more to come. For the twisted, this is just a small stepping stone. If they want to really minimize the problem, hire some big giant bouncers, preferably foreigners, I guarantee that the loons won't even think of trying. When you go to a bar, club have a strip party or when you see the size of some of these celebs bodyguards, you'll think twice before doing something stupid. It's a small price to pay for making sure these women are safe. But the plastic claw, lose it. You just look ridiculous with it and you can easily bypass those, but a guy built like "the Rock" aka Dwayne Johnson now that is an entirely different can of whoop ass.

2 ( +5 / -2 )

Just don't allow anything to be carried into the meeting event. Sounds simple to me. Airport type rules.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

That photo is ridiculous! Search people and more importantly hire security and stop thinking of how much it would cost.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Umm...how about not having the events?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@Bass4funk

Just look at some of the creeps that frequent AKB and other idols concerts.

Hey wouldn't you have to go to one these idol concerts yourself to get a look at those creepy attendees? OK I'm only joking Bass.

Seriously though, the weird shut-in otaku types exist regardless of whether or not there is an idol music industry. The particular creep involved in the attack in Iwate could just as easily slashed any girl walking down the street. How many similar types of stories have we read on this site? Dozens in recent years would be my guess. The big bouncers idea could be helpful for members of these idol groups but is unfortunately no help the average high school student on her way home from school. I don't know if there will we armies of Bob Sapp's protecting Japan's idols any time soon but something will have to be done before the inevitable copy cat strikes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Have more body guards standing by and simply have a bag check in/tag system where the organizers take your bag before walking to shake their hand and simply grab your stuff on the way out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just ban any weird-looking dude over the age of 20 from attending. Problem solved.

That's about 99% of the fan base! I can just see AKB doing their public appearances in a Pope Mobile.

0 ( +3 / -4 )

During the hiatus, the managing company behind AKB48, AKS has been mulling over possible ways to increase security yet still maintain the intimate meet-and-greets that have lifted them to the top tier of Japanese pop-culture.

Deep sea diving suits...

But seriously? Look this guy up...

Vitalii Sediuk

It happens overseas, despite guards, to famous entertainers, despite their age and supposed worldliness. Because some people just want attention.

cl400 said

One incident, overboard reaction.

Yes.

JA_Cruise said

Have more body guards standing by and simply have a bag check in/tag system where the organizers take your bag before walking to shake their hand and simply grab your stuff on the way out

Also yes. One fan at a time. Table between the entertainer and fan like in the photo. Guards on either side of her, same deal for him. She's protected, he's detained if trouble occurs.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have never heard of buying a cd and getting to shake the artists hand in other countries if you know of it please inform me. It sounds like a business gimmick to make money for the label while putting the girls in danger. My understanding is that the girls do not make a lot of money with the promoter getting most of it.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

japan4life: They are not selling the CD, they are selling a "ticket" to meet the person. Fans buy hundreds of them to "vote" or "meet" these people. It's why this type of music "sells" so much.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@gogogo: Thank you for the explanation.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

These bands got tons of money, do it like Hollywood and get some extra real bodyguard security, not retired grandpa security you often see.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

pop idols+super-obsessive otakus+handshake event=sweaty disaster of epic proportions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well, duh.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Badge213: Actually all members are on a fixed salary the management and "talent" agencies are collecting all the money

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@gogogo

That photo is of Miyuki Torii, a comedian (rather dark humor kind ofI) that has nothing to do with AKB.

In that photo, Ms. Torii is in fact making fun of the handshake thingy.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I have no idea whatsoever is so appealing about touching someones hand that a thousand other people have touched for a fleeting moment.. just bizarre, great for spreading germs and sadly enforcing some unhealthily fantasies I would say.

I understand the music industry has faced difficult times and they need "interesting" promotional ideas, but surely this is one everyone could do without.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I have no idea whatsoever is so appealing about touching someones hand that a thousand other people have touched for a fleeting moment.. just bizarre, great for spreading germs and sadly enforcing some unhealthily fantasies I would say.

Seeing the way that some men openly pick their noses or ears on the train makes me think that those girls are really not being paid enough for what they do!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

'idols you can meet' ......those high five's generated $226m (2012) in records sales alone.

If it's any help to MrAkimoto, our office straw poll, all pretty unscientific suggests in the absence of a reliable method of 'creepy crawly' detection, variations along the lines of actress Miyuki Torii wonderfully inspired 'robby the robot' solution, fans could choose their favourite attachments, shafts could flash and vibrate on contact........... 'idols that can pinch, grip n tickle'.....if all else fails it's doubles as a cattle prod.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The better move would be not to put children in panties to pander to male adults, but we'll never see that here.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Seeing the level of stupidity in just about every single comment for this AKB-related news article about tops all of the Japan Today AKB-related articles and their posts. I mean, the antis come out in full force at Japan Today whenever AKB is even whispered here, but this one... oh man, you guys really outdid yourselves. NOT ONE comment thus far has mentioned or even brought up the fact that the guy who attacked Kawaei and Iriyama WAS NOT A FAN OF AKB. He has been cited as saying he just wanted to commit random murder. He didn't even KNOW the girls he was attacking! It's clear that in all the years they've done this, NOT ONE FAN has EVER done something like this. It took an absolute stranger, somebody who is NOT a fan, to hurt two of the girls and a staffer at an event like this. SO actually, by THAT Logic, the people we should be most concerned about and worried in the future about are ALL OF YOU ANTIS lol. Honestly, in the years I've followed and adored AKB, I've never met a single fan who doesn't adore the girls and would never want to see them hurt or put in a life-threatening position. Yes, some of them can be downright obsessive, but never to the point where they would do something like this. And as a college-educated, happily married man (to a Japanese woman no less who supports my idol love completely, as she herself is a bit of an otaku) who is a musician and successful businessman, I can say that NOT ALL OF US are creeps. AKB has some beyond genius marketing behind them, some of their songs are creatively incredible, and most of all, all the girls are hilarious and fun and interesting and make people smile all over the world. Can you say that about yourself? Didn't think so.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Smith

The better move would be not to put children in panties to pander to male adults.

You seem to have an unnatural fixation with this group, but for the sake of decency, it's better that they wear panties.

It's quite normal for girls and women to wear them. Sorry to disappoint. (I'd ask why you look but prefer not to to know)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Seeing the level of stupidity in just about every single comment for this AKB-related news article about tops all of the Japan Today AKB-related articles and their posts. I mean, the antis come out in full force at Japan Today whenever AKB is even whispered here, but this one... oh man, you guys really outdid yourselves. NOT ONE comment thus far has mentioned or even brought up the fact that the guy who attacked Kawaei and Iriyama WAS NOT A FAN OF AKB. He has been cited as saying he just wanted to commit random murder. He didn't even KNOW the girls he was attacking! So that means that all of you can shut your absolutely ignorant mouths about AKB fans being weird, creepy otakus. SO WHAT IF THEY ARE???? It's clear that in all the years they've done this, NOT ONE FAN has EVER done something like this. It took an absolute stranger, somebody who is NOT a fan, to hurt two of the girls and a staffer at an event like this. SO actually, by THAT Logic, the people we should be most concerned about and worried in the future about are ALL OF YOU ANTIS lol. Honestly, in the years I've followed and adored AKB, I've never met a single fan who doesn't adore the girls and would never want to see them hurt or put in a life-threatening position. Yes, some of them can be downright obsessive, but never to the point where they would do something like this. And as a college-educated, happily married man (to a Japanese woman no less who supports my idol love completely, as she herself is a bit of an otaku) who is a musician and successful businessman, I can say that NOT ALL OF US are creeps. AKB has some beyond genius marketing behind them, some of their songs are creatively incredible, and most of all, all the girls are hilarious and fun and interesting and make people smile all over the world. Can you say that about yourself? Didn't think so.

tl;dr: I'm a non-obsessive, non-creepy, perfectly normal fan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan's music market is no more about how many fans ya average but how many average CDs per fan could be induced.

The agency management failed these girls. Those bosses command these minor girls as workers yet didn't provide enough safeguards in their workplace.

Nothing will change until the first one dies.

http://i.imgur.com/GyAnr9y.png

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, they can forget about selling their CDs now because that was only the reason why they were selling them so much because weirdoes had the opportunity to shake their hands and talk to them. Their lack of good singing is going to cut it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

ReformedBasher: "You seem to have an unnatural fixation with this group, but for the sake of decency, it's better that they wear panties."

Saying I have an unnatural fixation with this group is like saying it's wrong to be concerned about kiddie-porn or other crimes against children. Are you saying you're okay with child pornography? That's just an example, but why is it not a surprise that it was an adult male who did this? When you have these girls plastered on magazines and posters in bikinis or lingerie and the perverted males can't have them, is not the blatent advertising a concern? Don't get me wrong, the girls are victims, and the guy is the monster here, but the company bares part of the blame, as does society here.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Are you saying you're okay with child pornography?

This has absolutely nothing to do with that. Nothing at all. You might want to look up the dictionary of those two words together and consider using them correctly in the future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nice group. :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't get it. Nobody has handshake events. The idea itself is kinda creepy and appears to be a result of a focus group finding out that their main fans are pedophiles?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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