Last month on May 21st, Tomohiro Iwazaki stabbed an idol over 20 times in her neck, chest, arms, and back. Mayu Tomita was only 20 years old, a college student who appeared on idol shows and TV programs for kids. Tomohiro was a man who had a history of stalking women and yet was allowed to continue stalking Mayu, even though she went to the police to report the harassment via her blog and Twitter account.
The Japan Times reported, “According to sources, a person believed to be Iwazaki sent multiple messages to Tomita’s Twitter account. In those messages, the person claimed to have sent a watch to her sometime between January and February. It was apparently returned to the sender in April.”
“I will never forget that I was looked down upon by you,” a message sent on Feb. 22 read. “It would be radical to kill just because (someone was) rejected by a girl,” read another message dated March 15.
The police informed Mayu that their hands were tied. She needed to somehow prove that it was actually Iwazaki who sent the messages. Two years ago, Japan Times also did an in depth report about the fact that Japan’s stalking laws are basically ineffective. Stalkers are generally reprimanded, usually by phone, and then if they continue stalking they might get taken to the station for a talking to and a formal written warning. Police often have to use other laws in order to apprehend stalkers, such as trespassing or criminal defamation.
A shortcut is available in the form of a “provisional (anti-stalking) order,” or 仮命令, and it should be used in an emergency situation to cut down those hurdles if a suspected person’s life is in danger.
However, it’s never been used once. Not a single time have the police utilized a weapon given to them to save people like Mayu, or the two AKB-48 members attacked by a man with a saw. Becasue the two idols were injured, AKB-48 canceled fan meet-and-greet events, where participants buying CDs and tickets can meet and shake hands with AKB48 members, citing it was too dangerous.
In addition to the lack of effectiveness with laws already in place, nothing in the laws is prepared for threats via social media, which seems to be a huge oversight. In the era of cyberstalking, laws should be put into place to help protect woman and men from potential stalkers, but as the police told Mayu there has to be proof of a threat outside of the internet.
Thankfully, Mayu regained consciousness today, but she could’ve very well been killed by her stalker. Without stricter stalking laws, there is nothing to prevent another attack, and nothing to aid the police in apprehending the ones who are a real and grave threat to their victims. I hope that Japanese legislation will wake up and put the laws in the books to prevent another horrible attack.