Shiori Ito, Journalist Who Started Japan’s #MeToo Movement, Wins Rape Lawsuit Damages

Japanese freelance journalist Shiori Ito attends her news conference after a court verdict in Tokyo, Japan, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A Japanese woman whose rape accusations against a prominent TV journalist turned her into a symbol of the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement has been awarded 3.3m yen [$30,000] in damages.

Shiori Ito went public in 2017 with allegations that Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a former Washington bureau chief for the TBS network with close ties to the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had raped her two years earlier.

The Tokyo district court ordered Yamaguchi, who has consistently denied the allegations, to pay Ito damages and dismissed his 130m yen counter suit against her.

The court said in its written ruling that she was “forced to have sex without contraception, while in a state of unconsciousness and severe inebriation”.

“We acknowledge that the plaintiff continues to suffer from flashbacks and panic attacks until now.”

Ito, who faced a torrent of abuse online after taking the rare step of going public about her experience, held up a “victory” banner outside the court on Wednesday. “We won. The countersuit was turned down,” she said.

Just before the verdict, she told reporters she had received widespread support for her decision to pursue Yamaguchi through the courts.

“Since I woke up this morning, I have seen several messages from around the world that they are with me no matter how this turns out because my action has been meaningful,” she said.

Ito alleged Yamaguchi, 53, had raped her in 2015 after they met for a meal and drinks to discuss a job opportunity. She alleged that he had dragged her to a hotel room and sexually assaulted her after she passed out while they were dining.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Justin McCurry