National / Crime & Legal

17-year prison term sought for man who attacked pop idol in Koganei

Kyodo

Prosecutors on Thursday demanded 17 years in prison for the man who attacked a pop idol he was obsessed with in Koganei, western Tokyo, after she spurned his gifts and social media messages.

“It was an extremely self-centered act,” the prosecutors said at the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court.

The victim attended the session and asked that the court to impose severe punishment on 28-year-old Tomohiro Iwazaki, who attacked her with a knife after confronting the idol about a gift she sent back to him before a performance in the city.

“Everything has changed since the day of incident . . . I have been deprived of everything in a flash, (including my) time and things I had earned so preciously,” Mayu Tomita said in her testimony.

The 21-year-old college student, who was severely injured in the attack, spoke from behind a partition that shielded her from the defendant and others in the courtroom.

“I want him to return the life that I was supposed to live. I want him to return my body without scars,” Tomita said.

“I am sure (the defendant) is laughing inwardly as I speak now, and I don’t believe he has reflected upon his act at all . . . He should not be set free . . . He is the kind of person who develops some feelings for someone without asking if they feel the same way, and tries to kill the person if things do not go according to his will. He may come and try to kill me this time,” Tomita said.

While she was speaking, Iwazaki shouted, “Then you should kill me,” prompting the court to order him removed.

According to the indictment, Iwazaki was angered and humiliated after Tomita returned gifts he had sent her, including a watch and books. He tried to talk to her at a train station on the evening of May 21 last year before she was scheduled to perform with other pop idols.

After reportedly losing his temper after she refused to give him a clear reason, the indictment said he stabbed Tomita more than 20 times, inflicting wounds to her neck, chest, arms and back. She was in a critical condition for some time.

During Monday’s trial session, Iwazaki pleaded guilty to the attack.

“It was remarkably vicious,” the prosecutors said in their closing arguments Thursday, adding, “He was relentless and brutal in stabbing the victim, who was unable to escape.”

Talking about the mental trauma the incident caused, Tomita said, “When I was in the hospital, I would get scared looking at a pair of scissors kept for treatment, thinking I could be stabbed with them. I could not help myself, thinking people coming to visit me were there to kill me. Such feelings continue even after I’ve been discharged.

“I have been continuing with rehabilitation but my body does not move as I want it to,” she said, adding that her mouth has been partially paralyzed, making it difficult to sing and eat, and that she also has trouble with her eyesight.

“I feel anger toward the man who messed up my body like this,” she said, adding that the frustration is driving her crazy.

Before the attack, Iwazaki had harassed Tomita on Twitter and other social media sites, prompting her to seek help at a police station near her home in neraby Musashino.

After examining his public messages, however, the police did not consider Iwazaki’s advances to be an urgent matter. They later apologized for their inaction in addressing Tomita’s complaints.

The incident drew public outcry over police inaction against stalking, prompting the Diet to enact a stricter stalking law in December.