Police apologise to Japanese pop idol for inaction after she was stabbed over 20 times by stalker

Mayu Tomita, who was nearly stabbed to death by an obsessed fan in May.
Mayu Tomita, who was nearly stabbed to death by an obsessed fan in May. PHOTO: TOMITAMAYU/ TWITTER
Mayu Tomita suffered more than 20 stab wounds to her neck, stomach, back and arms in May.
Mayu Tomita suffered more than 20 stab wounds to her neck, stomach, back and arms in May.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

TOKYO - An aspiring Japanese pop idol, who was nearly stabbed to death by an obsessed fan in May, has accused police of inaction despite having lodged a report days before the attack, in which she stated her fears of being attacked or killed.

Ms Mayu Tomita, 21, who suffered more than 20 stab wounds to her neck, stomach, back and arms in May, issued a scathing indictment against the police last Friday (Dec 16), even as the police gave a public admission and apology on the same day that they had not done enough to secure her safety.

Ms Tomita, speaking through her lawyer Takashi Shibata, said she remains scarred physically and psychologically from the savage attack that left her in a coma for two weeks, Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun reported on Saturday.

Her attacker, Tomohiro Iwazaki, 28, has been charged with attempted murder.

The stabbing, which occurred on May 21 before Ms Tomita was to appear at an idol event in Koganei, western Tokyo, came 12 days after she told the police about Iwazaki who sent her menacing messages via Twitter.

 

Iwazaki is said to have sent her nearly 400 tweets in which his idolatry turned to hatred after Ms Tomita refused an unsolicited gift he had sent her.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police, in announcing the outcome of a probe into the incident last Friday, said "it was a case in which the police should have judged it necessary to swiftly ensure her safety."

Ms Tomita had accused the police of being seemingly unable to comprehend the extent of her fears over her physical safety.

"I explained every detail about the danger I felt at that time and also told the police officers about my worries and fear that I could be killed."

The three police officers whom she had spoken to had said during the probe that they had "no recollection" that Ms Tomita brought up fears about being possibly attacked, Asahi Shimbun reported.

Instead, they thought that Ms Tomita had only wanted them to stop Iwazaki from harassing her online, and felt that the Twitter messages did not constitute an immediate threat.

Failing to conclude that she was in immediate danger, the three officers did not raise the case to the officials in the police headquarters who handle stalking cases, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

Ms Tomita said through her lawyer: "Going even beyond anger, I only feel sadness. My attempt to plead my case in the most desperate way possible simply did not get through."

Her lawyer said that Ms Tomita still has to visit the hospital for treatment of injuries to her neck and face, which have not fully healed. And because she is unable to use her fingers, she has "no idea" when she can continue pursuing her music career, he added.

The case sparked widespread outrage in Japan, prompting a review of the country's woefully inadequate anti-stalking law that had not covered online harassment via social media. A revision in 2013 had only covered stalking via e-mail.

The law was again revised earlier in December to give the police more powers to combat online stalking, covering such acts as the repeated sending of messages via social networking sites.

waltsim@sph.com.sg