Theweekendleader

'MeToo' campaigner Japanese scribe seeks change in rape law

Tokyo

19-December-2019

Japanese journalist Shiori Ito, the complainant in a sexual assault case that turned her into the most visible face of the "#MeToo" campaign, on Thursday sought an amendment in the country's law declaring all sexual relations without consent as rape.

"In our current rape law, which doesn't have the word consent, survivors have to prove the rape. The way to prove it is to prove how much you have been threatened, how much you've been violated," Ito, who was allegedly raped by TV reporter Noriyaki Yamaguchi in 2015 while she was unconscious, told reporters.

On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court ordered Yamaguchi to pay 3.3 million yen (about $30,000) in damages to Ito in a civil suit over the suffering caused by the alleged sexual assault, as the criminal investigation department of Tokyo police had stopped the case and the prosecution had dropped all charges, citing insufficient evidence, Efe news reported.

An appeal to have the case reopened was rejected.

"We need to improve education, we have to see what is really going on in the prosecution office, we need to just think about what these sort of experiences can do to victims, just the basic knowledge on trauma," Ito said.

The 30-year-old journalist expressed her displeasure over the fact that no female police officer recorded her statement and she was initially told that this type of case could not be investigated.

Ito said she was finally forced to recreate the alleged rape with a life-size mannequin in front of three male investigators while she was photographed, in what she called a "really traumatic" experience.

"(The victims) know that they have to go back to the crime scene, which they never wanna go back, and they would be investigated for hours and hours to see that they are not lying. That's how they handle the rape cases in Japan," she explained.

The journalist went public about her ordeal in a 2017 press conference and her testimony caused social upheaval in Japan, triggering backlash and even death threats against her at a time when the #MeToo movement was at its peak in other parts of the world.

On Thursday, she insisted that if other survivors of sexual violence thought they would be treated similarly, they would remain silent.

Ito vowed to take all legal actions necessary to ensure that such behaviour is not repeated.

Until July 2017, a theft in Japan carried a bigger sentence, five years in prison, compared to a sexual assault (three years), before the punishment was raised to five years in the first amendment in the law in 110 years. The definition of rape was also widened to include anal and oral intercourse.

Yamaguchi, the former Washington bureau chief of Japanese broadcaster TBS and biographer of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, had spoken to reporters two hours earlier in the same room and alleged that Ito was a "habitual liar" who was seeking publicity through the case.

The 53-year-old journalist called the incident "unfortunate", and said he regretted it "ethically" but also insisted that he had done nothing illegal.

Yamaguchi said he would file an appeal against the decision within the given period of 40 days.IANS