GPS trackers, soiled stuffed animals and stabbings: the perils of being a Japanese pop star
Infatuated fans of Japan’s stage stars are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to get closer to the objects of their desire.
The management of all-boy dance troupe Anatashia has been forced to issue a statement through the group’s official Twitter account saying the six dancers will no longer accept soft toys from fans after what appeared to be a tracking device was found inside a stuffed animal given to one of them at a recent event.
“We are sad to have to inform you that inside a stuffed animal that we were given a few days ago, there was what we believe to be a GPS device,” the band tweeted. “This is both malicious and dangerous and, from now on, we will no longer be able to accept stuffed animals from our fans. We appreciate your understanding.”
Other fans expressed their anger at the incident, which could potentially have given the perpetrator a way of tracing one of the members of the group.
The dancers who make up Anatashia – known for their tightly-choreographed moves and trendsetting fashions – are apparently taking no chances with their fans as a result of previous incidents involving followers whose support took a sinister turn.
Kaori Matsumura, a singer with Nagoya-based idol band SKE48, appeared on a television chat show last year and said she always checks the insides of soft toys people send her out of fear that a fan might have hidden an audio or video recording device inside.
Matsumura said she is also very careful when she opens packages as she has in the past received stuffed animals that appear to have been soiled with bodily fluids.
In May 2016, 20-year-old Mayu Tomita was attacked and stabbed 34 times as she walked from a railway station in western Tokyo to meet fans at an event.
Police arrested 27-year-old Tomohiro Iwazaki at the scene after he made no attempt to escape.
He later told police that he was in love with Tomita and wanted to marry her. But he become enraged after she said she had no romantic feelings for him and returned a gift he sent her.
Tomita was in a coma for more than two weeks after the attack and told reporters after Iwazaki’s sentencing 11 months later that she will bear the scars of the attack forever and has become a different person since the incident.
The authorities came under fire after the incident as it was revealed that Iwazaki had sent Tomita more than 300 Twitter messages in the weeks leading up to the attack, with the tweets becoming increasingly aggressive.
Iwazaki was sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison, although that punishment does not appear to have deterred other obsessive fans.
Later the same year, Magical Girl Riripon – a solo pop star who made her stage debut in 2013 and is reported to be “eternally 16 years old” – cancelled public appearances for a month and was moved to a safe house after a fan suggested on chat websites that he wanted to rape her.