Chiba court hands man suspended sentence in flare incident at Keyakizaka46 event

Ryohei Abe
Ryohei Abe: “I thought that the members would receive sympathy if such an incident happened”

CHIBA (TR) – A court here has handed a 24-year-old man accused of igniting a signal flare at a meet-and-greet event for an all-girl idol group in Chiba City earlier this year a suspended sentence, reports NHK (Oct. 2).

On June 24, security guards at Makuhari Messe apprehended Ryohei Abe, a resident of Sapporo, for igniting a signal flare at a baggage storage area near where fans had gathered to shake the hands lined up for a “handshake” event with members of Keyakizaka46.

At the Chiba District Court on Monday, presiding judge Hideo Nirei handed Abe, who was accused of interfering with the duties of personnel at the venue by igniting the flare, a two-year prison term, suspended for three years.

“It was a malicious crime that sent persons into a panic,” the judge said.

Chiba Prefectural Police arriving at the scene arrested Abe, who was found to be in possession of a knife with a 12-centimeter long blade. During questioning, the suspect said that he wanted to kill one of the members.

“Slandered on the internet”

“I was uneasy after members of Keyakizaka46 were slandered on the internet,” Abe said during the trial, according to the Asahi Shimbun (Oct. 2). “I thought that the members would receive sympathy if such an incident happened, and that would end the slander.”

There were no injuries in the incident. The following day, another handshake event featuring the group was held at the same venue with 20 police officers in attendance.

According to police, Abe purchased the knife and flare after arrival in Chiba via a flight from Hokkaido Prefecture.

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