The current season of “Terrace House” was canceled after Kimura’s death, and in a country where the pace of legislative change can sometimes be glacial, the government moved quickly to acknowledge the outcry.
Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi denounced cyberbullying as “unforgivable” and said an expert panel was reviewing the current system for identifying people who post defamatory statements online.
“We will discuss ways to simplify this process,” she promised.
Prominent figures including former Olympian track-and-field athlete Dai Tamesue have also weighed in.
Tamesue urged people to sign an online petition that has attracted tens of thousands of supporters calling for social media platforms and internet providers to be punished if they do not cooperate in tackling cyberbullying.
“It’s getting very difficult for people who are gentle, not weak, to carry on on social media,” he said during a TV appearance.
The wrestling organization that represented Kimura is reportedly weighing legal action against her tormentors, but experts said the hurdles for victims of online abuse are high.
They must show the comments are defamatory or an invasion of privacy, and go through a two-step court process seeking first the IP address of the alleged abuser, and then information on their identity.
Yohei Shimizu, a lawyer who has handled similar cases, said few victims bother. The process takes about 10 months and proving the harm caused by a comment can be difficult.
“If someone writes ‘Die’, it’s a strong word but it can also be interpreted just as an expression of disgust,” Shimizu said.