Man who slashed AKB48 members gets 6-year sentence in Japan

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TOKYO (AP) — A man who slashed two teenage singers in the popular Japanese female pop group AKB48 last year was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison, a news report said.

Satoru Umeta pleaded guilty to attacking the 18- and 19-year-old women with a saw at a fan event in May in northeast Japan. A male staffer who tried to protect them was also injured.

The presiding judge in Morioka District Court said the 24-year-old Umeta attacked them because he was frustrated over not being able to find a job, Kyodo news service reported.

Established in 2005, AKB48 has a rotating cast of more than 90 young women, and affiliates across the country and in Indonesia, China and Taiwan. Its members are dubbed "idols you can meet" because of their fan events, at which those who buy special CDs can shake hands and chat briefly with their favorite member.

As soon as the handshaking event started in May, Umeta took a foldable saw from his jacket, approached the women and attacked them. They were cut on their hands and face, and hospitalized overnight. The singers — Anna Iriyama and Rina Kawaei — have since returned to performing with the group.

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