Japan Man Charged over Insults after Netflix Star’s Suicide

Mar 30, 2021 | GOV, Japan, NEWS, POP

by AFP

Kimura’s suicide made international headlines and brought renewed social attention to the issue of cyberbullying in Japan and elsewhere

A man has been charged over online abuse directed at a Japanese star of Netflix reality show “Terrace House” who took her own life last year, prosecutors said Tuesday.

A spokesman for Tokyo Prosecutors’ Office told AFP they had made a “summary indictment against a man in his 20s” following the May 2020 death of Hana Kimura, a cast member of the internationally popular TV show.

Police referred the man, who has not been named, to prosecutors in December, saying: “The suspect… posted messages on a social media account of the victim, including ‘You have such an awful personality. Is your life worth living?’ and ‘Hey, hey. When will you die?'”

The man has been charged with making public insults but is not obliged to face trial under the indictment, as is often the case for relatively minor offenses in Japan.

Local media said a Tokyo court had issued an order to fine him 9,000 yen ($80).

Kimura, a confident pink-haired professional wrestler, was a fan favorite on the Japanese show “Terrace House”, in which six young people share a home while looking for love.

But she was targeted by a torrent of abuse online, reportedly including comments such as “everyone will be happy if you’re gone”.

The show was canceled after Kimura’s death, which made international headlines and led Japanese ministers and lawmakers to move to tackle cyberbullying.

Tuesday’s indictment prompted concerns from some on Twitter that the punishment was too light.

“If he can get away with 9,000 yen, I’m worried that the number of cyberbullies will increase,” wrote one user, while another said: “It’s extremely wrong. There is no justice.”