Suspect was allegedly stalking Kawase near her home, workplace, nearby train stations
Tokyo police arrested a 34-year-old male resident of Tokyo’s Toshima ward on July 20 on the charge of allegedly stalking Uta Kawase, an idol who is part of the 22/7 idol project. The suspect admitted to the charge.
According to police from Toshima’s Mejiro police station, the suspect allegedly followed Kawase three times between June 14-18, following her to home and her workplace, and in nearby train stations, taking pictures and videos of her. The police were supposedly investigating the suspect for an entirely different incident, but found pictures and videos of Kawase on the suspect’s smartphone.
Kawase, who plays the character Nicole Saito within the 22/7 group, went on a short hiatus beginning on June 22 due to her being stalked near her home and workplace since mid-June. She reported the stalking to the police.
The project’s website noted that although Kawase has not suffered physical harm, she is dealing with great mental trauma. Due to her hiatus, Kawase will not be able to attend the group’s “Nananiji Natsu Matsuri 2023” concert tour, which is scheduled throughout July.
The project’s website released a statement in June 2022 regarding recent stalking problems affecting the group’s members. The management stated that certain fans have been engaging in stalking behavior against members and infringing on their privacy.
AKB48 founder and producer Yasushi Akimoto is producing the titular “dimension-crossing” idol group. The group based on the concept of “idols who cross dimensions” started with eight anime idol characters, with their respective voice actresses performing as idols in the real world. Sony Music Records and Aniplex received 10,325 applications for the idol group and held five rounds of auditions.
The group began releasing animated music videos in 2017, and their first character videos debuted in English in May 2018.
The 22/7 anime premiered in January 2020. The series had 12 episodes, plus a 13th “extra episode” titled “8+3=?” featuring all 11 main cast members. Aniplex of America streamed the show as it aired in Japan on FunimationNow. The anime debuted on Crunchyroll in February 2020.
The group held an audition for new members in 2021, the second audition since the initial recruitment in October 2016.