Luckily no one was harmed in the tense encounter.

On 18 May, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announced the arrest of a 17-year-old high school student in Yokohama City for violating the Stalker Control Law and Act on Punishment of Physical Violence. The victim of these crimes was Taiko Sasaki, member of the up-and-coming Johnnys’ Jr. group 7 MEN Samurai.

▼ 7 MEN Samurai, with Taiko Sasaki second from left

According to police, the student was reported to have followed Sasaki around on at least four occasions between 1 April, 2021 and 8 May, 2022. She would suddenly appear either calling out to the musician or grabbing him out of the blue, and fearing for his safety he consulted with his agency, who contacted police last November. The authorities issued warnings to the girl and spoke with her parents on four occasions, but it didn’t appear to deter her actions.

On 30 April she once again approached Sasaki and followed him for about 200 meters (650 feet), only this time holding a box cutter. Sasaki was wearing headphones at the time and couldn’t make out what she said, but according to Asahi Shimbun her words while brandishing the blade were, “You don’t need to worry about stalking, because I won’t go on anymore,” while Nikkan Sports reported her as saying, “I bought this box cutter to die. I came to you to because I wanted to apologize before dying.”

According to the police, Sasaki managed to stay calm and quickly went to his management’s offices for fear that she might harm someone in the crowded street. Fortunately, she was apprehended before any harm came to herself or others.

Readers of the news shared their sympathy for everyone involved in online comments such as the following:

“That’s beyond scary…”
“She was going to use a box cutter?!”
“Stalkers are extremely terrifying.”
“This kind of news is reported often, but I wonder how many times it happens and we don’t hear about it.”
“It the result of seeing an entertainer as something they ‘own’. When they realize these people have lives of their own, they can’t handle it.”
“She probably didn’t have any friends. It’s sad that life goes this way sometimes, but I’m glad Sasaki wasn’t injured.”
“Of all the fans he’ll have from now on, this one will unfortunately probably be stuck in his mind.”
“I wonder if Taiko’s OK. He must have been scared out of his mind.”
“Someone like that isn’t even qualified to be called a ‘fan.'”

Oddly enough, despite Sasaki being a celebrity, the suspect apparently became infatuated with him by a chance encounter on the street and wasn’t a fan of his work, initially at least. She reportedly told police: “I saw him at Shibuya Station in April of last year and fell in love at first sight, then I started to follow him. He was the only person I could think about,” suggesting that she was unaware of his work prior to noticing him for the first time.

▼ Sasaki gained a big following online during the pandemic for his Taiko’s Challenge home videos

If so, it’s an important reminder for all of us to stay alert and safe out there, because anyone is capable of unknowingly walking into the unwanted attention of a stalker. Luckily, no one was harmed this time and hopefully everyone involved can get the help they need to move on in the future.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, Nikkan Sports, My Game News Flash
Top image: YouTube/りあ
Insert image: ©Johnny & Associates
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