Japanese pop idol Mayu Tomita is suing the police for inaction over an incident where she was stabbed 60 times.
She is seeking almost $700,000 in damages over the 2016 attack, blaming the police for what happened because the police did not take her reports seriously.
Stalking incidents are on the rise in Japan although experts say it is ‘not really a serious crime.”
Tomita has sued the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and her management for failing to protect her even after she reported the man’s death threats.
She was 20 years old when she was attacked by 27-year-old Tomohiro Iwazaki when she was walking towards a concert venue in a suburb of Tokyo where she was about to perform as part of the Sold Girls Night in May 2016.
Tomita, now 23, filed her suit on Wednesday at the Tokyo district court, and told reporters she took action because of the conduct of officers before and after the attack.
“I would like police to realise that if they fail to respond adequately, it could result in something similar to what happened to me,” Tomita told the Asahi newspaper.
Iwazaki gifted Tomita books and a wristwatch months before the attack but she returned them.
He sent her more than 400 Twitter messages after that, in which Tomita reported to police.
She shared her safety concerns with the police less than two weeks before the attack but they did not take any action because they regarded Iwazaki as posing no immediate threat to her well-being.
Tomita also supplied police with details of her forthcoming performance two days before but they did not provide any additional security.
Witness testified during Iwazaki’s trial saying he shouted, “you should die, die, die” as he stabbed her in the chest, neck, arms and back, although his defence team claimed he had no intention of killing her.
He was sentenced to 14 years and six months in prison in February 2017.
Tomita was hospitalised for four months following the attack and she is partially blind in her left eye.
She has not regained full use of the fingers in one hand and she has problems eating and singing.
Tomita suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and will need further reconstructive surgery.
“When I see a person holding a pen, even if it is a friend or my doctor, I become really nervous because I fear I may be stabbed,” Tomita said.
“It is difficult to return to what life was like before the incident.”
Tomita said she genuinely feared she may be killed when she first contacted the police.
Her exchange with the officers is now central to her lawsuit against the police and her management, in which she is seeking damages worth 76 million yen (almost 1 million SGD).
This is not the first time stalkers have targeted Japanese artists.
Two members of the girl band AKB48, Rina Kawaei, 19 and Anna Iriyama 18 were assaulted at a handshake event in 2014.
Both of them sustained broken bones and lacerations in the incident including a member of staff before the assailant was subdued.
The assailant, 24-year-old Satoru Umeta was convicted of attacking the two women with a saw that had been adapted to hold box cutter blades.
Although Umeta’s lawyer claimed his client was showing signs of schizophrenia, he was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison.
The management of Magical Girl Riripon, an idol who claims to be “eternally 16 years old” cancelled events and moved her to a safe house in October 2016 after a fan implied on social media he wanted to rape her.
“Cases like this have become more common in recent years but so have stalking cases involving ordinary people,” said Makoto Watanabe, an associate professor of media and communications at Hokkaido Bunkyo University.
“Perhaps one reason we are seeing more stalking cases reported in the media is because the police are beginning to change their attitudes and we are seeing this problem treated more seriously,” Watanabe said.
“But it will also take a change in attitudes among the public for things to change completely.”
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