A man in his 20s was referred to prosecutors Thursday by Tokyo police for allegedly posting hateful messages on social media against Hana Kimura, a cast member on the popular reality TV show “Terrace House” who died earlier this year in an apparent suicide.
The man from Osaka Prefecture is suspected of having cyberbullied Kimura on Twitter by anonymously and repeatedly posting malicious comments, such as “Hey, when are you going to die?” according to investigative sources.
In response to Kimura’s death, the government revised a ministry ordinance in August to enable cyberbullying victims to request that social media operators disclose the telephone numbers of those who posted abusive comments. Furthermore, the government plans to simplify procedures for victims to obtain information on such social media users.
The man, who has admitted to the allegations, told the police during voluntary questioning that he “wanted to get back at (Kimura) after seeing her verbally abuse a male (cast member) on the show.”
Police say Kimura received around 300 hateful messages from approximately 200 accounts, and that they believe the messages were what prompted her to take her own life.
Criminal proceedings were opened against the Osaka man as his comments were especially malicious, they said.
“I pray this will deter people from slandering others so that the number of people facing hardships will fall,” Kimura’s mother Kyoko said in a statement following the referral.
“I want the perpetrators to atone for their sins, then live happily on Hana’s behalf,” she added.
The mother also asked the media to refrain from identifying or attacking the offenders as “Hana would not have wanted to see a tragic chain reaction which turns the perpetrator into the next ‘victim.'”
The 22-year-old professional wrestler, who was among the six cast members of the now-canceled series “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020,” was found dead at her apartment in Tokyo in May.
The show, the latest in a series that began in 2012, was broadcast by Fuji Television and also aired on U.S. streaming service Netflix with English subtitles.
It featured three women and three men sharing a house in Tokyo.
In late March, defamatory comments against her erupted on social media after she had a quarrel with a male cast member in an episode of the show.
Following her death, Fuji Television announced its decision to end the production and airing of the reality show.
In September, the Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization decided to review the reality show, in response to a claim of a human rights violation filed by Kimura’s mother, Kyoko.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 119 in Japan for immediate assistance. The TELL Lifeline is available for those who need free and anonymous counseling at 03-5774-0992. You can also visit telljp.com. For those in other countries, visit www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html for a detailed list of resources and assistance.
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