TOKYO - The obsessed stalker who stabbed pop idol Mayu Tomita dozens of times in a savage attack last May was on Tuesday (Feb 28) jailed for 14-½ years.
Tomohiro Iwazaki, 28, who was charged with attempted murder, not only left Ms Tomita, 21, with 34 stab wounds on her face, neck, back and arms - she was also partially blinded and has problems eating and singing.
The verdict is the latest development in a horrific case that prompted Japan to relook its anti-stalking laws last year to include social media harassment, after it emerged that Tokyo police ignored Ms Tomita's pleas for help 12 days before the attack.
Iwazaki had sent her nearly 400 tweets in which his idolatry turned to hatred after Ms Tomita refused gifts that he had sent her, including a watch and books. He approached her on May 21 last year, before she was to appear at an idol event in Koganei, western Tokyo.
Prior to his sentencing, Iwazaki expressed remorse to the court. He said: "I am really sorry for having caused great trouble to Ms Tomita and her family. I swear in this court that I will never go near Ms Tomita again."
Public prosecutors had sought 17 years for the "repulsive"crime that left Ms Tomita in a coma for two weeks, saying: "He was relentless and brutal in stabbing the victim, who was unable to escape."
But Iwazaki's lawyers had argued, in mitigation, that the attack was not premeditated but was instead a "sudden incident".
Ms Tomita, in her first public appearance since the attack, testified in court last week: "I want him to return the life that I was supposed to live. I want him to return my body without scars."
The undergraduate added: "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."
Her remarks, made behind a partition that shielded her from the defendant, prompted an agitated Iwazaki to shout: "Then you should kill me." The court ordered him to be removed.
Ms Tomita added that she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She said: "When I was in 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 got discharged."
The police, which had not considered Iwazaki a looming threat, apologised in December last year for their failure to address Ms Tomita's complaints.
Japan's Diet revised its anti-stalking laws - which previously had covered e-mail harassment but not social media - the same month.
The revised laws led to police arresting a man last Monday (Feb 20) for threatening to kill voice actress Nana Mizuki, 37, on Twitter.
Akihiro Fukushima, 32, is alleged to have sent a series of tweets to Ms Mizuki on Feb 2, including one that read "I'll kill you". firstname.lastname@example.org