After Japanese journalist Shiori Ito began speaking out about the alleged assault she endured by a prominent fellow journalist in 2015, she became the face of the #MeToo movement in Japan. Now, the BBC has produced a documentary, Japan’s Secret Shame, that tells her moving story, while also focusing on the wider social issues of gender and traditional attitudes in Japan.
The film tells the tale of how Ito was silenced and her career was threatened, and then proceeds to discuss the general approach to sexual assault in Japan, a country prone to brushing such incidents under the rug.
As Ito told Tokyo Weekender when we interviewed her earlier this year, she was met with hate when she first spoke out, but now her courage has prompted more and more Japanese women to admit to their own nonconsensual experiences. While Japan last year revised its century-old sex crimes law, increasing the minimum sentence for rape from three to five years, the country still has a long way to go in standing up for its female citizens.
After an early viewing of the documentary, The Guardian‘s Rebecca Nicholson writes, “Japan’s Secret Shame leaves the viewer with plenty to be furious about … But within this terrible story is a trail of hope, from the older women who treat Ito as a celebrity to those inspired to come forward with their own stories.”
Japan’s Secret Shame first aired on BBC Two on June 28, 2018 and will air again on July 2, 2018. It’s also available on BBC iPlayer for the month of July 2018.
For background into Shiori Ito’s case, read our interview with her, published February 2, 2018: