Police on Monday referred a second man to prosecutors over the cyberbullying of Hana Kimura, a cast member on the now-canceled reality TV show “Terrace House” who took her own life last year.
The Metropolitan Police Department said the man in his 30s from Fukui Prefecture posted four hateful messages about Kimura, a 22-year-old professional wrestler, on Twitter such as “Die” and “You’re disgusting” in April last year.
The man admitted to the allegations during voluntary questioning, with investigative sources quoting him as saying, “Many hateful messages had been posted, and I followed suit. I’m sorry.”
The latest police action came two days before the one-year statute of limitations for the public insult charge expires.
Kimura, who was among six cast members of the 2019-20 season of “Terrace House Tokyo,” was found dead at her apartment in Tokyo in May last year after becoming a target of a barrage of hateful messages on social media. The show has since been canceled.
Her case highlighted the issue of cyberbullying, and prompted calls for more action to prevent and track down anonymous posters of defamatory comments.
Kyoko Kimura, the wrestler’s mother, expressed gratitude for the police action before the expiration of the statute of limitations, but added that she “regretted” that not all posters of hateful messages aimed at her daughter had been charged.
“I am keenly aware of the need to seek cooperation from social networking site operators and keep communications logs for a long time so that people will not be pushed over the edge by irresponsible posts,” she said.
Last December, a man in his 20s from Osaka Prefecture was referred to prosecutors over the cyberbullying of Kimura. Last week, he was indicted and fined 9,000 yen ($81) for posting malicious comments on Twitter eight times anonymously in May last year, with messages such as, “When are you going to die?” according to the indictment.
The Osaka man admitted to the allegations and was quoted by the police as saying he “couldn’t forgive Kimura’s attitude on the program.”
The cyberbullying of Kimura followed a scene in an episode from the series aired in March 2020, in which Kimura lost her temper at a male cast member who accidentally shrank one of her wrestling costumes while doing laundry.
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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