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Thursday, May 7, 1998 Published at 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK


Emotional send-off for Japan teen idol
image: [ Fans wail and scream as Hideto Matsumoto's coffin passes by ]
Fans wail and scream as Hideto Matsumoto's coffin passes by

In Japan more than 30,000 fans have attended a funeral service for a rock star. Hideto Matsumoto, a member of X-Japan, hanged himself last Saturday. Several fans have attempted to kill themselves in apparent copycat suicides. The band was very popular with teenagers, but split up at the end of last year. From Tokyo Juliet Hindell reports.

Some fans had camped out in streets near the temple where the funeral was held for several days.

And on Thursday, police estimated 33,000 fans crammed the area to pay their respects. Many wept and wailed and became hysterical.

Hideto Matsumoto was the lead guitarist for X-Japan.

The group were famous for their wild dyed hair and heavy make-up. They were very popular with teenagers in the late 1980s, and still had a strong following when they broke up at the end of last year.

Hideto Matsumoto hanged himself with a towel last weekend. It is not yet clear why he killed himself.

Since his death, one 14-year-old fan has committed suicide and several others have attempted to kill themselves. The surviving members of the group called on fans to remain calm and not to mimic the rock star's suicide.

More than 40 of the fans who attended the funeral had to be taken to hospital, some were overcome with emotion, but others succumbed to heat exhaustion after waiting for hours in the sun.

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