A man has been charged over online abuse directed at a Japanese star of Netflix reality show “Terrace House” who took her own life last year, prosecutors said Tuesday.
A spokesman for Tokyo Prosecutors’ Office said they had made a “summary indictment against a man in his 20s” following the May 2020 death of Hana Kimura, a cast member of the internationally popular TV show.
Police referred the man, who has not been named, to prosecutors in December, saying: “The suspect … posted messages on a social media account of the victim, including ‘You have such an awful personality. Is your life worth living?’ and ‘Hey, hey. When will you die?'”
The man has been charged with making public insults but is not obliged to face trial under the indictment, as is often the case for relatively minor offenses in Japan.
Local media said a Tokyo court had issued an order to fine him ¥9,000 ($80).
Kimura, a confident pink-haired professional wrestler, was a fan favorite on the Japanese show “Terrace House,” in which six young people share a home while looking for love.
But she was targeted by a torrent of abuse online, reportedly including comments such as “everyone will be happy if you’re gone.”
The show was canceled after Kimura’s death, which made international headlines and led Japanese ministers and lawmakers to move to tackle cyberbullying.
Tuesday’s indictment prompted concerns from some on Twitter that the punishment was too light.
“If he can get away with ¥9,000, I’m worried that the number of cyberbullies will increase,” wrote one user, while another said: “It’s extremely wrong. There is no justice.”
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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