Top politicians in Japan have spoken up about the need to deal with cyberbullying following the death of Hana Kimura, who apparently killed herself after facing hundreds of hateful messages online.
Kimura, a 22-year-old pro wrestler and star of the popular reality show “Terrace House,” is believed to have taken her own life at the Tokyo home where she was living alone, sources said Monday. Several suicide notes were found in her room.
One note was addressed to her mother, saying “Thank you for giving birth to me,” according to the sources. Her death was confirmed at a hospital.
News of her death has sparked an outpouring of messages of condolence and a public outcry against cyberbullying, including a tweet by singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu saying, “People say we should just ignore slanderous comments, but it’s difficult. An entertainer is also a human being. Please don’t forget this.”
On Monday, leading politicians stressed the need to deal with such bullying following the death of Kimura, who was a popular wrestler usually playing the role of a villain.
The Diet affairs chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Hiroshi Moriyama, met with Jun Azumi, his counterpart in the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and agreed to start a discussion on establishing a set of rules to prevent cyberbullying.
“It is important for the legislature to play a role to make a society without such incidents,” said Moriyama. “We will aim to reach a consensus on a certain direction (of the rules) by the fall,” Azumi said.
Kimura was among the six cast members of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020,” the latest in a series that began in 2012 and is broadcast by Fuji Television. It has also garnered a cult following overseas as it is distributed by the U.S. video streaming service Netflix with English subtitles.
The current series, which began in May 2019, features three women and three men sharing a house in Tokyo. The cast members are “looking for love while living under the same roof,” and there is “no script” for the show, according to Netflix.
However, Kimura, who joined the show last September, had been the target of hateful messages on social media criticizing her remarks and behavior during the show, especially after an episode distributed in late March in which she lost her temper.
After one of the male cast members shrank one of her expensive wrestling costumes after accidentally mixing it with his clothes and washing it in a washing machine, Kimura was seen yelling at him.
After this episode, Kimura began receiving tweets including some saying, “Everybody will be happy if you are gone quickly,” and “Never appear on TV again.”
On the day of her death, the Yokohama native tweeted, “Every day, I receive nearly 100 honest opinions and I cannot deny that I get hurt.”
She also wrote on Twitter, “Thank you for giving birth to me, Mom. I wanted to be loved in life.”
On Instagram, Kimura posted a picture of herself and a cat with the message “I love you, please live a long and joyful life. I’m sorry,” in the early hours of Saturday, shortly before her death was confirmed at a hospital.
Fuji TV had already stopped shooting of the show due to the coronavirus spread. Following Kimura’s death, the broadcaster has decided to halt broadcasting an episode on Tuesday and distributing two episodes on Netflix on Tuesday and June 2.
“I would like to offer my deepest condolences (on her death),” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference Monday.
A research group at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication is discussing ways to simplify procedures to identify individuals who make defamatory posts online. “We will act appropriately based on discussions (of the group),” the top government spokesman said.