By Nicholas Perugini, Trending Writer
The recent sexual assault allegations on celebrities here in the United States has brought new awareness to victims. #MeToo became a popular Facebook tag to highlight how common sexual assault is. Thanks to the widespread use of the internet citizens in other countries have also begun posting #MeToo. In Japan, women are beginning to speak out and voice their stories. The nation now prepares itself for a conversation that has been building for decades.
According to the Japan times, in 2015 there were 1,167 reported rapes and 6,755 cases of indecent assault across the entire country. For a nation with a population over 125 million that seems like a low statistic. Unfortunately, those figures are only part of the story. A recent government report revealed that over 95% of rapes go unreported. The Japanese government also does not include oral or anal penetration in their legal definition of rape. This means that a large segment of sexual assault victims cannot seek proper legal action against their attackers. This new wave of awareness sweeping the globe has finally convinced some Japanese women to come out from the shadows and voice their stories.
One such woman is Shiori Ito, a freelance journalist who earlier this year claimed that a close friend of Japan’s current Prime Minister had raped her. For Ms. Ito, coming forth on this issue resulted in her receiving much scrutiny from the Japanese public and government. When Ms. Ito tried to report the incident to the police, they did nothing. She had this to say on her ordeal, “After my experience, I tried to seek help from the hospital, a rape crisis center, and even the police, but none of them could help me. I came to the painful realization that the legal and social system in Japan isn’t working properly for victims of sex crimes.” She has since begun to lead a campaign to bring awareness of sexual assault victims in Japan. She has recently published a book detailing her experience and the years she had to stay silent on the issue. There are many women like her in Japan and the recent wave of awareness sweeping the globe brings hope to women likes Ms. Ito that someday they will receive justice.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 7th print edition.
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