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Let's discuss the death of Hana Kimura

by Patrick St. Michel

Contributing writer

The death last weekend of professional wrestler and “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” participant Hana Kimura left social media in a tailspin. Within hours of women’s wrestling agency World Wonder Wing Stardom releasing a statement on Kimura’s death on Twitter, much of the internet felt blindsided by the news. Tributes poured in from around the world.

It also prompted discussion on an array of related topics: mental health in Japan, the ethics of reality TV and the responsibility that entertainment companies have in monitoring the well-being of those they’re working with. “Terrace House,” which was once celebrated for offering a different take on the reality format via a more relaxed approach, suddenly found itself open to a series of probing questions.

In Japan, the issue of cyberbullying has emerged as one of the biggest talking points surrounding Kimura’s death. The wrestler apparently committed suicide after receiving countless spiteful messages on social media sites and this prompted a number of people to share their own experiences online.

Within an hour of the news breaking, the Japanese word for slander — hibō chūshō — was trending on Twitter, soon registering more than a million tweets that used the word.

All in all, this represented social media in Japan attempting to reconcile a long-festering problem, with an increasing number now calling for concrete action to be taken against those who attack people online from a veil of anonymity. This could already be happening, with politicians starting to discuss the establishment of a set of rules to prevent cyberbullying.

Article first published in The Japan Times on May 30.

Warm up

One minute chat about your favorite TV show.

Game

Collect words related to social media: information, friends, follow, etc.

New words

1) ethics: moral principles that govern behavior, e.g., “There is a debate over the ethics of animal testing.”

2) cyberbullying: the use of electronic messaging to bully someone, e.g., “Cyberbullying is a problem among students at the school.”

3) spiteful: filled with the desire to harm, e.g., “After the divorce, both husband and wife became spiteful toward each other.”

4) anonymity: the state of being unknown, e.g., “She enjoyed the anonymity of living in a big city.”

Guess the headline

Pub_ _ _ begins to wake up to sheer volume of harassment o_ _ _ _ _

Questions

1) What happened to Hana Kimura?

2) What became the biggest topic of discussion surrounding her passing?

3) Is this incident having an impact on politics in Japan?

Let’s discuss the article

1) How do you use social media?

2) Do you watch reality shows?

3) How can we prevent cyberbullying?

Reference

人気番組に出演する若い命が突然悲痛な最期を迎えたことに、世間やメディアの注目が集まっています。SNSの台頭によって番組出演者と視聴者の関係は大きく変わりました。一方的に見ることしかできなかった有名人に対して視聴者はその声をダイレクトに届けることができるようになったことで、コミュニケーションが生まれると同時に匿名の言葉の暴力を受けやすくなっています。

言葉の持つ力は絶大です。SNSが当たり前に日常の中にある今、言葉の刃による悲劇を防ぐために私たちができることはあるのでしょうか。朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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