Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

LDP lawmaker draws fire over comment on alleged rape victim in BBC documentary

A screenshot from the BBC website shows the documentary film "Japan's Secret Shame" featuring freelance journalist Shiori Ito.

TOKYO -- A Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislator has drawn fire on social media for her comment in a documentary aired on BBC that a female journalist who was allegedly raped made "errors on her part as a woman."

The roughly one-hour documentary, titled "Japan's Secret Shame," was aired on June 28. It focuses on freelance journalist Shiori Ito, who alleges that she was raped by former Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) journalist Noriyuki Yamaguchi. The film also deals with "the wider social issues of gender and traditional attitudes in Japan," according to its website.

Public prosecutors decided not to indict him. The documentary will not be broadcast in Japan, but there is a brief explanation of its content on the BBC's Japanese-language website.

The scene drawing most criticism is an interview with LDP legislator Mio Sugita, who comments, "In her case, there were clear errors on her part as a woman -- drinking that much in front of a man and losing her memory." Sugita adds, "If you're working as a woman in society, you'll be approached by people you don't like. Being able to properly turn them down is one of your skills."

Another scene where the LDP legislator laughs at an illustration of a woman apparently modeled after Ito with the words "Makura eigyo daishippai (failure at sleeping around for business)," also attracted scorn on social media. Critical comments such as "Her comment makes it sound as if predominance of men over women is affirmed in Japan," have been posted by social media users both in Japan and overseas.

When approached for comment, Sugita sent the Mainichi Shimbun an email through her office stating, "If you see the full interview, which is over two hours long, I think you will understand that I really meant something different." She is said to be considering releasing footage of the interview herself.

Lully Miura, an instructor at the Policy Alternatives Research Institute at the University of Tokyo, one of the many people criticizing Sugita on social media, commented, "Behavior as if questioning the actions of the victim instead of the perpetrator will spread the misunderstanding that it cannot be helped if something happens to a woman when she gets drunk in front of a man. There seems to be a sense of dislike against women strongly speaking up to men that is embedded in Sugita's attitude."

Ito alleges that she was raped by Yamaguchi on April 2015, after meeting up for drinks to discuss her career. However, her complaint has been judged "non-prosecutable" by both the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and the Tokyo No. 6 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution. She is now filing a civil lawsuit.

Yamaguchi, meanwhile, has declared that he "has done nothing that violates the law." In the December 2017 issue of the monthly magazine "Hanada," he stated that Ito had "memory loss due to alcohol," and "the state and judiciary merely turned down what was (Ito's) misunderstanding and assumptions (about what happened)."

(Japanese original by Kenichi Omura and Kasane Nakamura, General Digital News Center)

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media