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In 2019, Aiko Usui was 28 years old and running for a seat in a ward assembly election in Tokyo. But instead of being treated as an aspiring politician by some of the voters she was canvassing, she instead felt like a pop idol being targeted for abuse.

During one rally, a man approached her several times to touch her arms while shaking her hands. Another man followed Usui around as she made stump speeches across town and then sent her photos of herself via Instagram with messages such as “I wish I could come closer to you” and “I think a ponytail hairstyle would look really good on you.”

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