/

Teens held in mugging needed cash for AKB48 garb

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Four teenage boys were arrested earlier this month for allegedly robbing and injuring a man on a Tokyo street because they needed cash to buy custom-made outfits to sport in a handshaking event involving the pop idol group AKB48, police said Monday.

The boys, all from Saitama Prefecture, approached the victim, a 27-year-old graduate student, in Kita Ward on Aug. 11, grabbed him by the shoulder and demanded cash.

The youths fled the scene with the man’s mobile phone and other belongings, slightly injuring the victim in the process.

Two of the youths, both 17, were arrested that day. The other two, both 15, were nabbed a week later, the police said.

According to media reports, one of the 17-year-olds planned out the mugging. He confessed that the teens carried out the assault to get money to buy the “tokkofuku” uniforms embroidered with names of their favorite AKB48 members.

Literally translated as a “special attack uniform,” tokkofuku refers to attire embroidered with huge bellicose images, including dragons, as well as poetry.

When contacted by The Japan Times, a shop clerk at a popular tokkofuku manufacturer in western Japan said each uniform costs an average of ¥50,000 to ¥60,000, depending on how “intricate and big you want the icons to be,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Tokkofuku used to mainly be sought after by “bosozoku” (biker gangs) interested in intimidation. But when the police started a crackdown on their lot, the bikers basically shunned such attire to keep a lower profile, the clerk said.

Nowadays tokkofuku are mainly sold to hard-core fans of certain bands or celebrities, he said. Typically they have the names of their favorite artists stitched onto the outfits in the hopes of getting noticed. Along with AKB48, singer Namie Amuro, Kyary pamyu pamyu, and punk rock band Kishidan have many such idolizers.

“These fans are really desperate to get the attention of the people they idolize,” the clerk said, giving his take on the four arrested teens. “By wearing tokkofuku, with the name of their favorite member on it, they’re trying to show their love.”

  • Max Erimo

    What a sad sad state of affairs……

  • Michael Radcliffe

    Whoa! Those guys are so bad-ass!

  • Murasaki

    Yes, why have a real relationship with a real girl when you can live in la la land and dream of having a girl from AKB as your girlfriend.

    This problem is caused by the media and their brainwashing of people with the IQ of a rock!

  • Tatami53

    This article is deeply disturbing, not to mention way, way off base. The teens did not, in any remote concept of the word “need” cash for “AKB48 garb.” They may have “wanted” the cash, but they did not “need” it. What they “need” is parental guidance, counseling, and multiple hours of community service. They also need to be shamed in public by naming them in this article, since they thought it was their right to be able to demand cash from some innocent person on the street. More importantly, if they are that desperately sad and pathetic that they think that by buying a ¥60,000 (USD $600) “uniform” to “get the attention of the people they idolize,” then they really, truly need to get a life. I was a teenager, I was a fan, sure. I bought the albums, the T-shirts, the posters, etc. But to go to these extremes is indicative of something really deeply disturbing in society, not necessarily Japanese society, but in general about young people who think that their lives will be “better” by buying such incredibly unnecessary things.

    And why did the shop clerk at the tokkofuku manufacturer request anonymity? They’re more than happy to sell such pointless things to stupid teenagers who come in with the money to buy it, but they don’t have the courage to say who they are?

    All in all, a pathetic comment on what people think is important in life.

  • Tatami53

    This article is deeply disturbing, not mention way, way off base. The teens did not, in any remote concept of the word “need” cash for “AKB48 garb.” They may have “wanted” the cash, but they did not “need” it. What they “need” is parental guidance, counseling, and multiple hours of community service. They also need to be shamed in public by naming them in this article, since they thought it was their right to be able to demand cash from some innocent person on the street. More importantly, if they are that desperately sad and pathetic that they think that by buying a ¥60,000 (USD $600) “uniform” to “get the attention of the people they idolize,” then they really, truly need to get a life. I was a teenager, I was a fan, sure. I bought the albums, the T-shirts, the posters, etc. But to go to these extremes is indicative of something really deeply disturbing in society, not necessarily Japanese society, but in general about young people who think that their lives will be “better” by buying such incredibly unnecessary things.

    And why did the shop clerk at the tokkofuku manufacturer request anonymity? They’re more than happy to sell such pointless things to stupid teenagers who come in with the money to buy it, but they don’t have the courage to say who they are?

    All in all, a pathetic comment on what people think is important in life.