Time magazine’s 2020 edition of its 100 most influential people has been covered extensively in Japan because it includes two young Japanese women, although the reaction was relatively cool. In the case of Naomi Osaka, who made the list for the second year running, the recognition has been double-edged. She won the U.S. Open tennis tournament for the second time, and did so while drawing attention to the names of Black Americans who have been killed by police. For the most part, the Japanese media is happy to acknowledge Osaka’s athletic achievements but cautious about playing up her activism.
The other Japanese woman recognized, journalist Shiori Ito, is all about activism, since she is the most visible representative in Japan of the #MeToo movement calling attention to sexual violence against women. Ito publicly accused another journalist of raping her in 2015. In the Time piece, sociologist Chizuko Ueno calls Ito’s actions “brave,” given the social stigma attached to rape allegations in Japan. Predictably, she has received as much grief as support in Japan for her willingness to discuss the experience.