Shiori Ito has forever changed life for Japanese women with her brave accusation of sexual violence against her harasser. Though the accused man, close to political power, escaped criminal prosecution, Ito won a civil suit against him in December.
Her victory was widely shared by supporters with great joy. She has pushed other women to promote the #MeToo movement in Japan and sparked the national flower demonstration, a protest movement against sexual violence, where women simply gather together standing with flowers, telling their stories of victimization.
The movements brought forth other cases of sexual assault by a high-ranking bureaucrat and a well-known human-rights journalist. They have also led to activism to reform criminal law, and in June, the government announced a three-year plan to reduce sexual violence in the country. Japanese society is finally refusing to tolerate sexual violence.
Ueno is a sociologist and chief director of the Women’s Action Network