Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18, were treated in hospital following a terrifying attack by a saw-wielding man during a meet-and-greet event with fans on Sunday evening. They sustained cuts on their hands and heads, while a male staff member was also cut on his hand.

The man, who has been identified as Satoru Umeta, an unemployed 24-year-old, was arrested by local police. He instantly admitted to attacking the women. AKB48's manager was reported as saying the two girls' surgery was successful and they should be able to leave the hospital by today (Mon, May 26).

AKB48 are a hugely popular all-girl band in Japan – as of March this year they had sold over 30 million records, making them one of the country’s most financially successful acts.

But they’re not your traditional girl band. AKB48 hold the Guinness World Record for being the word’s largest pop group. This from the Guinness website: “The largest pop group is AKB48, which consists of 48 members. This group is divided into 3 teams of 16 members each, named A, K and B. They were created and are currently produced by Yasushi Akimoto, who also pens the lyrics for all of their songs. They were established in Japan, in 2005.”

The band was shrouded in controversy when Minami Minegishi ‘broke’ the band rules by spending a night with her boyfriend. She shaved her head – a sign of contrition in Japan – in a bid to stay in the band, which was ultimatley successful. This raised a debate in Japan as to whether pop stars over there are actually allowed to lead normal lives.