On December 18, 2019, the Tokyo District Court handed down their verdict on a civil lawsuit by freelance journalist Shiori Ito seeking damages of approximately 10 million yen from former TBS Washington branch manager Noriyuki Yamaguchi for allegedly raping her.

In April 2015, Ms. Ito claimed that she had been raped by Mr. Yamaguchi while she was in an unconscious state after the two had drinks. Mr. Yamaguchi had filed a counterclaim seeking about 130 million yen for defamation.

However, in its ruling, the court rejected that counterclaim and ordered Mr. Yamaguchi to pay 3.3 million yen in damages to Ms. Ito.

In its explanation for the ruling, the court stated "it can be admitted as facts that the defendant had non-consensual sex with the plaintiff who was inebriated to the point of losing consciousness, and that the defendant tried to pin down the plaintiff's body and continue having sex with her even after she regained consciousness."

Shiori Ito's comments

After the ruling, Ms. Ito addressed reporters in front of the courthouse, saying: "I still don't know how to feel about this but I think I've reached some kind of closure."

Choking up with tears, she expressed her thoughts on the trial in the following manner:

I am very happy when I think that the trial was a chance for everyone to see the evidence and testimony that had not come out before.

I think I've been able to come this far thanks to everyone's support. But at the same time, I realize I feel uncertain and alone in spite of that support. When I look back, this is what the (experience) of this trial has been for me.

There are still many people who are facing trials such as this.

I think about those people. Whether it's through the courtroom or support systems in our environment, I hope improvements can be made to lessen their burden.

Shiori Ito, at a press conference on December 18th, 2019

Noriyuki Yamaguchi's comments raise questions

On the same afternoon, Mr. Yamaguchi also held a press conference. "I performed no acts against (her) will. The court's ruling simply can't be justified," he said, then stated his intent to appeal the decision.

Moreover, in response to a reporter who asked if he "had any thoughts on women who make accusations due to being victims of sex crimes and the social trend this represents," Mr. Yamaguchi made the following comments:

Whether or not they choose to show themselves in public, those who are really victims of sex crimes naturally have the right to sue, and I think it is society's obligation to accept this.

The only thing is Shiori Ito is not a victim of a sex crime.

Several people who have suffered from sex crimes have contacted me before, and I have even met some of them.

A woman who really was a sex crime victim attested to me that Ms. Ito isn't telling the truth. She said (a sex crime victim) wouldn't laugh at a press conference, turn her eyes upwards and make that kind of expression when appearing on TV.

Ms. Ito is now exposing herself all over the world and appearing on TV. She is being treated as if she were a real victim of a sex crime.

If women who truly suffered from sex crimes and (wanted to make) a #metoo (statement) were told they were liars and stopped showing up as a result, I think it would be extremely regrettable.

Noriyuki Yamaguchi, at a press conference on December 18th, 2019

Harsh reactions online

Various opinions were expressed online in reaction to the ruling and the comments made both by the plaintiff and the defendant.

Among them, Mr. Yamaguchi's comment that a true sex crime victim had attested to him that "a sex crime victim wouldn't laugh at a press conference" was met with harsh reactions, some of which we have collected below:

  • "Victims of sex crimes don't laugh," do they now... Any idea how many people suffer because of the image of the sex crime victim which (society) has created?
  • So, victims remain quiet, turn their eyes downwards, and don't laugh? Your words are a curse silencing the voices of all sex crime victims.
  • This kind of prejudice only torments the victims of sex crimes even further. It's silent pressure telling people to stay quiet even when they're victims.
  • Victims go on with their lives. How much anguish lies behind their smiles... His comments lack imagination.

Beginning with the justice branch, there is a poor relief system in place to help victims of sex crimes in Japan. In many cases, even when they suffer from sex crimes, the victims feel they have no recourse and end up crying themselves to sleep at night.

Moreover, false images of sex crime victims and prejudices against them are deeply rooted in society, so victims face various hardships after the crime has been committed.

Perhaps this ruling will present an opportunity to fundamentally review the Japanese judicial system and the social circumstances surrounding sex crimes in Japan.

Source: Grape

Note from the editor (12/23/19 10:34 JST): A part of our article may have led to a misunderstanding. We apologize for this, and have edited the text accordingly.

By - Ben K.