A court in Tokyo has awarded Japanese journalist Shiori Ito $30,375 in damages after she accused a well-known reporter, Noriyuki Yamaguchi, of raping her in 2015. The case is viewed as a high-profile proceeding in the country since the alleged rapist, who is a senior reporter in Japan, shares close ties to Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
Yamaguchi had reportedly sexually assaulted Ito after inviting her to dinner to discuss job opportunities four years ago. Yamaguchi denied the charges and sought compensation of over $1.2 million in a countersuit. The countersuit was, however, dismissed by the court. “We won. The countersuit was turned down,” said Ito.
In 2015, Ito was reportedly drugged by Yamaguchi after having dinner together and found herself in a hotel room with him on top of her. Ito claims that the police took weeks to open an investigation after she had come forward with her complaint – before they eventually backed off, citing lack of evidence.
Moreover, she claims to have been harassed by insults and threats by members from the public, but the most hurtful proved to be letters from Japanese women. “I was flooded with insults and threats. But what grabbed me the most was these very polite emails from women telling me how ashamed I should be for revealing everything,” she said.
Ito went public in 2017 at the height of the #MeToo movement in Japan – a time when it was rare for victims to come forward to report rape cases. According to a 2017 government survey conducted in Japan, as little as 4% of women had reported cases of sexual assault. According to Japan’s National Police Agency, there was an increase of 26.8% in rape cases reported in the first half of 2018, as compared to the same period in 2017.
Ito is convinced that she can change how the Japanese view sexual harassment after her story has spread across the world and has been covered by the Japanese media. After breaking the silence in 2017, she wrote and published a book about the incident titled “Black Box”.
The 30-year-old’s case has placed the spotlight on the country’s legislation with regard to rape, which is said to be one of the oldest and least updated with no amendments in 110 years. Prior to 2017, a convicted rapist would be charged with three years in a Japanese prison, while a convicted thief would serve at least five years.
A convicted rapist in Japan would now be imprisoned for a minimum of five years and the rape laws have been broadened to include men as rape victims for the first time.