In one of the most high-profile cases in Japan of the #MeToo movement, the Tokyo District Court ruled last week that Noriyuki Yamaguchi, a former journalist at TBS TV, must pay ¥3.3 million in damages to freelance journalist Shiori Ito, after she had filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting her at a Tokyo hotel in 2015.

Ito's victory was widely reported by Japanese media, but it also captured global attention as victims in Japan rarely go public with allegations of sexual assault and win their legal battle. It marked an important milestone for women's rights in Japan, but at the same time it revealed how this country is far behind much of the world in terms of protecting sex crime victims. While many countries have moved to introduce heavier penalties on such crimes in recent years, the criteria here for a conviction in a sex crime case remains onerous. Japan must work urgently to provide better legal support for sex crime victims.

Last week's ruling ordered Yamaguchi to pay ¥3.3 million in damages to Ito, concluding that she had not consented to having sex as she had lost consciousness after a few drinks. The court also dismissed a countersuit filed by Yamaguchi, who was seeking ¥130 million in compensation from Ito, claiming the act was consensual and that her accusations damaged his social reputation. Prior to filing her lawsuit, Ito had reported the incident to the police, but prosecutors dropped the case, saying there was insufficient evidence.