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How Shiori Ito Brought the #MeToo Movement to Japan

When Shiori Ito accused a high-profile journalist of rape, she did what was considered unthinkable in Japan. Now she's bringing attention to the country’s weak laws against sexual violence.

A beacon of resilience

The #MeToo movement had helped me a lot to protect myself, to make other people to believe. Meet Shiori Ito — the journalist who broke Japan’s silence on rape. In 2015, she accused Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a high-profile journalist and biographer of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, of drugging and raping her. Yamaguchi denied the charge and after a two-month investigation, prosecutors dropped the case. In Japan, only 4% of rape victims file a report and rape laws make no mention of consent based on data from the Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office.

Following the incident, she filed a complaint with police, but prosecutors dropped the case in July 2016, citing insufficient evidence. Ito later filed a complaint with the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, but it also judged in September 2017 that the prosecutors’ decision was “appropriate,” saying there was no reason to overturn it. The trial also includes a counter-lawsuit filed by Yamaguchi, who is seeking ¥130 million in compensation from Ito, claiming his social reputation has been damaged by her remarks.

To highlight the practical and legal hurdles faced by women affected by sexual violence — Ito did the “unthinkable” in Japan. In May 2017, she went public with her case and opened a civil lawsuit against Yamaguchi. Then came the backlash — forcing her to flee to London. A month later, Japan’s 110 years old sex crime law was amended, mandating longer sentences and allowing for broader definitions of rape. In October 2017, amid the explosion of #MeToo confessions, she published a book about her experience. Ito became a beacon of resilience and the face of the #MeToo movement in Japan, encouraging women to speak up. In 2018, two senior political figures were forced to resign, in the wake of sex harassment allegations.

Brut.

08/25/2019 11:58 AM

16 comments

  • Rebekah S.
    03/24/2020 21:41

    Change law now and throw rapist in jail!!

  • Saleem S.
    03/16/2020 03:24

    Bravo.

  • Aristotle T.
    03/16/2020 02:54

    Powerful woman!! Great courage and strength ❤️

  • Balpreet K.
    03/15/2020 20:15

    😪😪😪

  • Maynard G.
    03/15/2020 11:44

    Japan is a sexist country with a crony justice system. It’s no wonder she lost in court. It neither proves her case nor disproves it. But I suspect she is telling the truth. Look at how they blackmailed Carlos Ghosn. He didn’t get justice but at least he didn’t have to endure Japan’s unjust “justice” system any longer.

  • Dave E.
    03/15/2020 06:52

    "When her rape case that was dropped in 2016, she went public ..." well, those are certainly all words

  • Shane K.
    03/15/2020 04:32

    But what happened to the senior journalist who had supposedly raped her? It's great that her actions amended ancient rape laws but a big piece of the puzzle is missing from this story. Whether her initial allegations were true or not. Brut didn't follow up with the senior journalist's case and failed to mention anything about him, whether he was found guilty or not.

  • Bruce F.
    03/15/2020 02:35

    WOW What an incredibly brave woman, she is a definite hero, it’s so bad what she had to go through, that is one of the nastiest things a man can do to a woman, thankfully she survived and changed the law for women (and men) for eternity. She should be made a Saint.

  • Michael H.
    03/14/2020 21:17

    What an amazing lady brave and stood her ground

  • Marco G.
    03/14/2020 19:00

    sapevi?

  • Alissa Z.
    03/14/2020 18:22

    Taking it head on and dive deeper... results!? You either face it now and walking away with one less problem; or you are living with a bad dream the rest of your life. And that it has always my motor to live life. But often time for issues less severe ? It will helped to shed light and not tragedies... so speak up !!! We are born with one mouth, one brain and two hands and a pair of leg. How we use it , it will give a different result.

  • Alissa Z.
    03/14/2020 18:18

    Nothing get done and solve by keeping silent. It will eat you up silently...!

  • Marianne D.
    03/14/2020 17:59

    And see how much all these still being ignored by most of people

  • Amita B.
    03/14/2020 16:37

    ...now "rape" is a very common word to the people ... ..better ..like ..rose day ..hug day ..valentines day... last of all make a" justice day..and that day hope rape victim will get justice..

  • فاطمة ع.
    03/14/2020 16:09

    then theh say japan is the safest country.from which side?🤔🤔🤔🤔

  • Bhola M.
    03/14/2020 16:05

    🐅

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