During the Spring Shuffle, not only was the senbatsu for the new single, “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai”, revealed, but members were shuffled, removed, or added to the already existing AKB48 lineups. In the midst of all these announcements, one member announced graduation that night. That member was Kawaei Rina. The official reason given for her graduation was her wish to pursue a career as an actress. However, it is hard not to see that this announcement came due to the stress and issues that arose from the “Iwate Incident”. Her graduation speaks volumes of something that AKB48 management has failed to do: that is take into account the psychological issues one faces on a daily basis.
Let us recap the Iwate incident. This was the incident I wrote about here where a man wielding a saw came to a handshake event and proceeded to slash both Kawaei Rina and Iriyama Anna. Security staff and others were attacked as well. All who suffered injuries eventually healed and the man wielding the saw is currently serving a prison sentence. What was not talked about were the psychological wounds that Kawaei and Iriyama faced that day, wounds that take much longer to heal than cuts on one’s hands.
Kawaei Rina announced graduation because of the newly reinforced fear that came with the Iwate incident. Fear is something that can be learned. The fear of this incident happening again is something that may have sparked in her mind. This is issue that must to be addressed with professional help or, at the very least, a strong support system. It is clear that she needed some sort of behavioral therapy to ease up the fear that came with the Iwate incident. It could be anything, from negative reinforcement to systematic desensitization. There are a myriad of things that could have helped her recover psychologically. Sadly, management did not care for her psychological issues and we have the current outcome.
Think of all the current and former AKB48 members who experienced psychological issues with ranged from depression to anxiety. Minegishi Minami. Sashihara Rino and Iriyama Anna to name a few. Even Maeda Atsuko experienced depression issues during her tenure with AKB48. None of them received any sort of professional help from the management and I am assuming Kawaei Rina was not given the help she needed either.
I mean, look at me as an example. I experience some anxiety issues during everyday things in my life. Whenever I go to work, I am always afraid of making mistakes, because not only do I suffer from feelings of indignity, but I get affected by work associates who tend to say things and talk trash if I am too slow at certain positions, or miss one, two, or thirty things. The anxiety becomes so bad that I spiral into depression and basically feel like I want to cry my eyes out for being such a horrible worker. The funny thing is the psychological issues I have are by no means as bad as what Kawaei Rina has. I may be struggling at my hospital job, but she escaped a near-death situation.
To end, I just want to say to Kawei Rina: Thank you Kawaei Rina for all you have done for AKB48. You made the sousenkyo senbatsu last year and your “baka” inspired character was hilarious and cute at the same time. It is pretty unfortunate that you will not face off against my Nogizaka46 oshi in Wada Maaya to determine who is the most “baka” of them all, but I wish you the best in your future endeavors and wish you the best in your journey to become an actress!
Also, try to get the therapeutic help you can if the resources are there. It is a shame that AKB48 management never considered psychological issues. But maybe this piece I am writing will send a message not just to AKB48 management, but to a lot of people who seem to brush it off:
Psychological issues are pretty damn important.