Victims of online bullying complain of the need to navigate complicated procedures to file lawsuits over abusive posts made by people hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

"It takes too much time and money," a victim said.

Cyberbullying came under the spotlight in Japan following the apparent suicide in May of Hana Kimura, a female professional wrestler and reality show cast member who was the target of bullying comments on social media.

The government has been discussing ways to make it easier to identify those who post malicious remarks online.

Emiri Aizawa, 32, president of an apparel company, who used to work as a hostess, said she started receiving insulting messages around spring this year after a former employee at one of her shops posted comments about her on social media.

"My smartphone kept ringing all day. I received hundreds of comments every day," she recalled.

"I felt distracted even when I was working. I was filled with fear and misery," Aizawa said.

People using direct message functions, which cannot be seen by others, sent her especially brutal words such as "Get lost" and "Die," according to Aizawa.

"I'm not hoping to only receive compliments, but I want regulations on one-sided, evil-minded insults to be tightened," she said.

A 30-year-old company worker in Tokyo, who loves going to live music clubs, said she has been struggling with abusive comments made on an online anonymous bulletin board for about three years.

Her behavior at clubs has been written about on the bulletin board, she said.

One time, someone claimed she sneaked a cigarette inside the club, which she denies.

As many as some 100 comments about her were posted in only two days, according to the woman.

She considered filing a lawsuit for information disclosure about such posts, but gave up after learning it would cost her ¥700,000 to ¥800,000.

"I don't understand why victims need to make such an effort," she said. "I hope it will become easier to file a lawsuit, including costwise."

Lawyer Satoshi Fukazawa said that when victims want to seek compensation over abusive online comments, they need to file lawsuits against social media and communications companies to get information about those who made the posts, such as their names and addresses.

"As many as three lawsuits are needed, including one to get compensation," said Fukazawa, who is an expert in online defamation. There are cases that take over a year for all trials to be completed, he said.

The government "should simplify procedures for information disclosure," including considering alternatives to lawsuits, Fukazawa said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.