New York – Shiori Ito, a journalist and symbol of Japan’s #MeToo movement, and Naomi Osaka, who protested racial injustice en route to her third Grand Slam title in this year’s U.S. Open, were among the world’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 released Tuesday by Time magazine.
Ito “has forever changed life for Japanese women with her brave accusation of sexual violence against her harasser,” the U.S. weekly magazine said. Osaka was selected among the top 100 list for the second straight year.
Referring to Ito’s lawsuit over an alleged rape case, Time said, “She has pushed other women to promote the #MeToo movement in Japan and sparked the national flower demonstration, a protest movement against sexual violence, where women simply gather together standing with flowers, telling their stories of victimization.”
Touching on Osaka’s decision to wear seven masks bearing the names of African American victims of police violence before matches at the U.S. Open, Time said, “It took incredible focus, courage and intentionality to carry herself the way she did. To use her gifts and talents, her voice and her platform, to honor the preciousness of Black and brown lives.”
“She reminded us that we can all resist the excuses that guard us from giving love. Whatever power we have, the most lasting and life-giving way we can steward that power is by using it to lift others up,” it added.
Beating Victoria Azarenka in the final match, Osaka became the youngest three-time Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won the Australian Open in 2008.
Osaka, who is of Haitian-Japanese descent, won back-to-back majors at the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open.
In Japan, where few sexual assault victims come forward, Ito, 31, has become a symbol of the country’s movement against sexual abuse after going public in 2017 with a rape accusation against Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a former Washington bureau chief of Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. in 2015.
The Tokyo District Court last December ordered Yamaguchi, a biographer of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to pay ¥3.3 million ($31,000) in damages to Ito, recognizing he “had sexual intercourse without the consent of Ito, who was in a state of intoxication and unconscious.”
Among the list of 100 public figures were U.S. President Donald Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.
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