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Stalker of ex-AKB48 member handed suspended prison term

TOKYO (TR) – The Tokyo District Court on Thursday handed a 42-year-old man a suspended prison term for stalking of a former member of all-girl idol group AKB48, reports Jiji Press (June 19).

The court handed Hidenobu Onishi, a resident of Edogawa Ward, a four-month prison term, suspended for three years, for stalking former AKB48 member Karen Iwata last year.

“You got the wrong impression about services afforded to fans out of goodwill, causing great concern to the victim,” said presiding judge Shinichiro Nakajima in handing down the ruling.

On April 28 of last year, Onishi intruded into the ticket area of an event in Nerima Ward featuring Iwata. As well, he posted a message on his Twitter account on June 13 in which he demanded an apology for being falsely accused of stalking by AKS, the group’s management agency.

Hidenobu Onishi stalked ex-AKB48 member Karen Iwata
Hidenobu Onishi stalked ex-AKB48 member Karen Iwata (Twitter)

Iwata made her debut with the group in 2012. Beginning around that time, Onishi began to attend meet-and-greet “handshake” events featuring members of AKB48. The next November, the suspect proposed marriage to Iwata at such an event. AKS subsequently banned the suspect from attending future events.

Over a two-year period, Onishi sent about 1,500 fan letters to Iwata. In April of last year, police issued a warning to the suspect about harassing her.

In 2016, Iwata left the group, appearing at a “graduation” event held that March.

At the opening of Onishi’s trial last October, Iwata was seated in a separate room connected to the court through a video connection. “Do not have anything more to do with me,” she said during a cross-examination as a witness.