On Friday, May 21, Tomohiro Iwasaki, a 27-year-old resident of Kyoto, took the shinkansen to Tokyo to meet the girl of his dreams, 20-year-old Mayu Tomita. Mayu is an aspiring "aidoru" (idol, as young female entertainers are called) with ambitions of becoming a singer and songwriter.
Now in police custody awaiting arraignment for attempted murder and other charges, Iwasaki told police following his arrest that he had stood in wait for several hours at the venue where Tomita had performed, in the west Tokyo suburb of Musashi Kogane. When she emerged, Iwasaki -- a strapping individual who in his teens had excelled in judo -- ambushed Tomita, using a knife to stab her repeatedly in the torso, back and neck.
As of this writing, Tomita, a junior at Asia University, is reportedly still fighting for her life in the intensive care unit at an undisclosed hospital. The extent of her wounds have not been made public, but some bloggers have suggested she may have lost of one or both eyes.
Iwasaki had become enthralled with Tomita via the web and social media, and last year he'd presented her with a wristwatch, which she'd returned.
The case has once again led the media to raise questions over glaring shortcomings in anti-stalker laws -- particularly with regard to those who post inflammatory statements on Twitter and other social networks.
Nikkan Gendai (May 25) warns that many "stalker military reservists" -- using a term to describe a latent case that can lapse into such behavior with very little provocation -- may be lurking on the web.
"There are people who say, 'I won't leave until you tell me your address,' or who find out where a performer lives and move nearby," relates Maika Kunugi, 19, another so-called "underground idol."
"So many teenagers want to break into showbiz that it's said Japan has more than 1,000 groups with these so-called 'underground idols,'" a person involved in show business productions tells Nikkan Gendai. "The majority are represented by small agencies that are barely breaking even. So it goes without saying that they can't do much to protect their wards. All they can say to the girls is, 'You're on your own.'
"Should violence break out during a performance, no staff members are on hand to stop it either," the source continues.
It's also been said that once an idol leaves the business, there's no assurance of her safety afterwards.
"Even after a girl quits being an 'idol,' a stalker might telephone to her school, demanding her contact address. Or he might post on Twitter asking about her private life, what clothes she's wearing, and so on. I've heard of one demanding to a former idol, 'If your group has broken up, then pay me back all the money I spent watching your performances.' Even a year afterwards, she still shudders in fear when recalling his words," the source adds.
In a follow-up article appearing in Nikkan Gendai's May 26 issue, Takashi Nakayama, head of a Tokyo-based crime prevention NPO called Association-Japan Security Consultants, warns that if a person visits the police to convey stalking concerns, "It's a mistake to think this alone will result in protection, and may already be the wrong thing to do."
"The police are busy and aren't able to serve as bodyguards," Nakayama points out. "It might have worked better if Ms Tomita had consulted an attorney. She directly mailed back the wristwatch Iwasaki had sent her, but that act probably just infuriated him. It would have been safer for her if she had arranged to meet with Iwasaki in the company of her attorney and had him first explain her reasons before returning the gift."
Likewise, when Iwasaki's tweets became abusive, Tomita should have shut him out, or at the very least stopped posting the details of her activities, like "I'm on my way to class now."
The day he assaulted her, Iwasaki reportedly accosted Tomita in front of the station, and after she ignored him, he followed her. "At that point she should have fled to the nearest koban," says Nakayama. "If she had told the cop there, 'I've already reported this to the main police station,' he would have arranged to escort her to her destination.
"Aside from keeping a container of pepper spray on hand, it's also effective to shout, 'Keep away from me!' loudly enough for people nearby to hear. Stalkers tend to flinch when their targets fight back," Nakayama adds.© Japan Today